Sunday, October 26, 2008

#9 of 51 ideas for a better Malaysia

Lulu dragged me into this initiative started by Nizam Bashir. One blogger posts one idea a week. Hopefully the chain will continue until we hit 51 ideas on how to make a better Malaysia. My favourite piece so far is by Antares, the coolest grand-dad in town.

My, idea, #9 in the series, is: Plain water in restaurants, please

Water is my favourite drink. It was hard to find out in KL while growing up. If you wanted a drink while wandering around town it had to be something sweet. Times have changed. Bottled water is now abundant.

Too abundant. Have you noticed how many eating places now insist on serving bottled water? Ask for regular water and you'll get a snooty, “We only serve mineral water,” with a tone implying it's superior. That's ridiculous. My next question then is, “How do you wash your salad vegetables? Can't you serve me that same water?”

Bottled water is an extreme waste of resources. Petrochemicals and energy are used to make those plastic bottles. Then, more petrol is burnt transporting the plastic bottles to the bottled water producer. The bottled water producer fills the bottles with water, packs them into cardboard boxes (made with trees, energy and more transport) and then ships them to the shops, burning even more petrol.

Everytime you take a plastic bottle, you're creating an heirloom. It can last for a thousand years, even in a landfill. Your great, great, great ~... grandchildren can continue to admire it long after you've finished the water and long after you're gone.

All for something that can be had by just turning on the tap.

I wonder what's wrong with restaurant economics in Malaysia. Restaurants down south in Singapore serve plain water as a matter of course. Up north in Thailand you get bottled water, but that's because the tap water there isn't potable; and in any case, you're not charged an exorbitant amount. Why do restaurants in Malaysia have to make water a profit centre?

But let's accept that over-priced water is a necessary evil when eating out here. Let's do our part by insisting the restaurant serves us plain boiled or filtered water. Pay the restaurant whatever they want to charge for bottle water, but insist you don't want the bottle. Tell them they can serve you plain, boiled or filtered water. Don't force the restaurateur to give you a bottle. That bottled water may not be pristine anyway. Wasn't there a study not long ago that found quite a few brands of bottled water were “just” tap water? And remember upmarket Perrier that did a recall when benzene was found in its bottles?

Over to boo_licious for #10 in the series. I hope she'll keep the kettle boiling :-)


Starmandala said...

Hello, Chi Chang, thank you for the wonderful plug (already folks have started reading my post from your blog!) You have such a fresh, wholesome energy and you appear well grounded in focusing on simple, practical matters that will enhance our quality of life in the long term. I'm really happy to learn that you're one of Guan Eng's economic advisers. To me, one of the happiest moments in the aftermath of GE12 was witnessing LGE step into the post of Penang's CM. He probably doesn't remember me but we exchanged a few emails just before he was hauled off to prison for discussing Rahim Thamby Chik's pedophilic tendencies in public.

Anonymous said...

Have you thought of getting/circulating info on restaurants who refuse to serve simple drinking water and get the public to boycott these outlets?

Anonymous said...

No kidding! I'm going to start an internet campaign against these bottled-water-thugs soon!

Anonymous said...

Hello Chi-Chang,

Great post indeed. Well done, young man :)

I support your stand on this issue and I find it ludicrous that some people go to the supermarket and buy boxes and boxes of bottled water.

We have to be more environment friendly and stop this habit of promoting bottled water without thinking about the consequences of such a habit.

I applaud your decision to be CM Lim Guan Eng's Economic adviser...I am from DAP island of Penang and hope to meet you in person one day.

Best wishes to you, Chi-Chang.


Anonymous said...

It is time to have a new set of thinking.

First, our oil reserve will be run out in 20 years, we need someone who can lead the nation forward with limited resource, someone likes Mr. Lee Kuan Yew. So, we need to make mental preparation for a Chinese malaysian to become the Prime Minister in 10 ~ 15 years from now.

Second, we need to have courage to forge integration, it is important to combine Chinese wisdom, Muslim value and Western management skills. For a starting point, lets try:
Metal : Shahada : Vision
Fire : Salar : Consistency
Wood : Zakat : Hard Working
Earth : Siyam : Core Competency
Water : Haji : Strategic Alliance

Third, we are starting to create a warefare state and pour huge resources to create a social safety net. This is going to limit the productivity input of the government spending. As a result, we need a vibrant private sector to take the lead. It is not a matter of size but the intangible effect of creative spark.