When drinking water is no longer just a blessing


DRINKING water has become a big business.

Yes, if you live in the Klang Valley, be prepared to pay up to RM1.50 for a glass of drinking water at eateries in so-called premium areas.

At most of these places, the RM1.50 includes an unlimited refill. But how many glasses of water can one drink after a meal? To cut costs and to make the RM1.50 worthwhile, perhaps one could pay for a glass of water (refillable) and share that one glass, and its unlimited refills, with the rest of the people at the table.

The standard that most eateries charge for plain water these days in the Klang Valley is 80 sen.

In Kuching, we are often charged between 20 and 50 sen for a glass of air celap. No refills. Many kopitiams or stalls will still happily give you a glass of water for free.

The most expensive glass of water the Eye has paid for in Kuching is RM1. Needless to say, it was a shock when the bill came because there were quite a number of us who had ordered ‘air celap’ then.

Owners of eateries in the Klang Valley are trying to justify the cost of drinking water by citing their water and electricity bills (for boiling the water and washing the glass). Some even included the cost of rental and labour into the price of a glass of plain water.

How sure are we, the consumers, that the water is even boiled? It could have very well come straight from the tap, with a few cubes of ice added.

The water company in Selangor argued that charging more than 20 sen per glass of water is unreasonable as the price of water for commercial use is RM2 per 1,000 litres.

Which means, if a thousand customers ordered a litre of water each at an eatery, it would still cost just RM2 for the water alone.

In addition to that, if we can buy bottled water from the convenience store for less than RM1 for 500 millilitres, why should we pay so much for a glass at an eatery?

The water that we have to drink, bathe and wash in, and the air that we breathe are the Creator’s blessings to mankind.

Unfortunately, man has realised how we are destroying these very blessings that keep us alive, and sadly, resorted to capitalising on them.

If water is to be charged at high and exorbitant prices to tourists and to the rich, then it should be in places that experience low rainfall each year, such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and some Arab countries.

Malaysia receives an average rainfall of 3,000 millimetres per year and it rains on an average of 247 days a year – we are one of the wettest countries in the world. We are really blessed to have so much water.

Inconsiderate business owners should put themselves in the shoes of the poor and those who live in poverty in countries with hardly any rainfall.

Perhaps it is time we stop ordering ‘air celap’ at eateries and carry our own bottles of drinking water when we go to the kopitiam or so-called premium eateries to avoid paying up to RM1.50 for a glass of water.

Eye must say, ladies are pretty adept at handling this situation. They are known to carry little bottles of mineral water in their handbags everywhere they go – 250 millilitres or 500 millilitres. Some even buy cute or pretty little bottles, which fit nicely in their handbags, to carry around with them.

They even have a bottle or two in their cars at most times.

This habit among the ladies of wanting to keep themselves and their skin well hydrated should be emulated by the men as well, to overcome this problem of exorbitantly priced ‘air celap’.