PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Opening of the ABC Waters @ Pang Sua Pond and the 3G Wellness Centre

PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Opening of the ABC Waters @ Pang Sua Pond and the 3G Wellness Centre

PM Lee Hsien Loong | 25 March 2017

PM Lee Hsien Loong at the Opening Ceremoney of the ABC Waters @ Pang Sua Pond and 3G Wellness Centre on 25 March 2017.

 

Good evening everybody!

Thank you for coming this evening, to share with us this event, to open the 3G Wellness Centre and the ABC Waters @ Pang Sua Pond. The 3G Wellness Centre is there, the buildings behind and the Pang Sua Pond is right in front of you. With the 3G Wellness Centre, we will be able to get people of all ages to come together. There is a fitness centre, there is a roof terrace overlooking the pond and lots of activity rooms which you can do community activities and programmes.

We are also opening the ABC Waters @ Pang Sua Pond. We started long ago with Sungei Pang Sua. In fact, it was one of our first projects to keep our waters clean and green. It was our "Keep Our Water Clean" campaign, de-silting Sungei Pang Sua long ago, in 1971 and in 1973. We have got the residents of Bukit Panjang and we have got the SAF servicemen, to work hard to remove the mud and the weeds, so that rainwater can flow from Bukit Panjang into our reservoirs. In 1971 and 1973, we did not have all these houses around us and it was probably still a kampong, but we were starting to make it beautiful. In the 1990s, we built Pang Sua Pond, this pond, one of 16 stormwater ponds to collect rainwater so that when there is downpour, like this afternoon, we will increase our flood resilience, it will hold back the water and make a flood less likely.

The pond was also designed to be a recreational space for residents. We made a special effort with the landscaping to make it look natural. So it looks as if the pond has always been here, actually, the pond has not always been here. We put it here, so that we could all enjoy it.

This latest makeover is therefore, the latest of a long series. We have a new stage here, for activities and performances. We have a boardwalk, you can see it, around the pond over the water for residents to enjoy. Through a lot of planning and hard work over many years, we have made this, Pang Sua Pond, a place where families can enjoy nature.

Why have we put so much effort, ingenuity, and resources into water? Because water is strategic for us, it is a national security issue for us. It is crucial to Singapore’s safety and existence. It is fundamental to our survival. This was true, right at the beginning of our nation when we wrote the Water Agreement into the Separation Agreement and both governments guaranteed the Water Agreements that Johor would supply water to Singapore in accordance to the agreements. Till today, it is still important for our survival.

Now, we have four national taps – there is water from Johor, there is water from our own reservoirs, including this one, there is water from NEWater, there is desalinated water, but we will never have "more than enough" water. We will never have the luxury of not having to save water, not having to make every drop count. Every NSman understands what this means. Every Singaporean, boy or girl, man or woman, also needs to remember this.

Last month, the Government announced an increase in the water price, this is the first time in 17 years. Thirty percent, not small, it provoked a strong reaction from Singaporeans. We had a vigorous debate in Parliament. Several Ministers spoke, they explained why we had to do this and what they are doing to help households. For example, spreading the increase over two years, for example, increasing the U-Save amount so that the low income family, actually they have to pay very little more.

If ever we let water become a vulnerability for Singapore, we will all be in very serious trouble.

PM Lee Hsien Loong

After the discussion, people now understand it better. In retrospect, perhaps we should have spent more time explaining this before announcing the increase, then people would not have been so surprised. But all in all, the increase in water price is absolutely necessary. We cannot avoid it, otherwise we would not do it.

It is not the only thing we are doing. We are educating households to save water wherever possible. To use thimbles on your taps, to use the right systems for your toilets, to wash your clothes and use the water more than once. We are supporting research into new techniques and materials for making NEWater more cheaply. We are encouraging big users of water, which are industries, to recycle more of the water they use, to improve their industrial processes so that they need less. But we also have to price water properly because it is scarce, it is not cheap to produce and consumers need to be know how precious it is, every time they turn on the tap. We need discourage each one of us, ourselves, from using more water than they absolutely need to, all of the time.

PUB needs to pay for the expensive investments we are making, in reservoirs, in the stormwater ponds like this one, in NEWater and desalination factories, in pipelines and pumping stations, and sewage treatment plants. If water tariffs are not enough to pay for these, PUB would still need to build all these and we would still have to pay for these, but instead of paying for it with our water tariffs, we would have to pay for it through our taxes. It is fairer to pay for it through the water tariffs, those who use the water, pay for the water, rather than from general taxes, where you use your GST or your income taxes or your car taxes to pay for water.

Why have we put so much effort, ingenuity, and resources into water? Because water...is a national security issue for us.

PM Lee Hsien Loong

We have got to treat water very seriously. It is one of the things which Mr Lee Kuan Yew used to be obsessed with, right from the beginning and right to the end of his life. As a nation, we have to maintain his attitude towards water, the attitude that has brought us here.We have got water security now because of our obsession. By keeping this focus, we can stay secure into the future.

As our economy grows, we will need more water. As our climate changes, you have droughts, you have El Nino, our water supply will become less predictable. In Johor, their population is growing, their water needs are growing, so that is going to put our 250 million gallons a day under pressure because their demand for water is increasing. If ever we let water become a vulnerability for Singapore, we will all be in very serious trouble.

Water is a very serious matter. The water supply, reservoirs, you see all these beautiful things, but remember that there is a serious purpose to it. We can relax and enjoy the reservoirs and catchments because they are fun and beautiful places to be, where our families can come, where we can enjoy nature, where we can bring our love ones, take a walk and make friends. That is why we have ABC projects like this one. We do not believe that we should keep people away from water to protect it, we would like people to get close to the water, enjoy it, take care of it, so that we can value and conserve it, for ourselves and our children.

Six schools, together with the Cashew ward, have pledged to adopt Pang Sua Pond. Schools in this neighbourhood, their students will be involved in clean-up activities and water quality testing. When you walk around the pond, when you are enjoying the neighbourhood, you are eating an ice-cream, do not drop the wrapper into the pond, do not make work for the students in the schools to come and clean up. They are looking after it, if you help them, their job will be easier.

I am happy that we are all looking forward to these facilities, enjoying it. Let’s enjoy them, value what we have but take nothing for granted in Singapore.

Thank you very much and congratulations.