Mr Leon Perera asked the Minister for Health whether the Ministry will implement mandatory installation of water coolers in areas of high footfall for drinking water to be readily available so as to promote better health.
The Senior Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health (Ms Rahayu Mahzam) (for the Minister for Health): The Ministry of Health (MOH) has worked with the National Environment Agency (NEA), Housing and Development Board (HDB), Land Transport Authority (LTA) and National Parks Board (Nparks) to increase the availability of water dispensers. They are now installed at all hawker centres, and are also available at parks, bus interchanges and terminals. Owners of other premises are also encouraged to install water dispensers and water coolers.
Mr Speaker: Mr Perera.
Mr Leon Perera: I thank the Senior Parliamentary Secretary for her reply. I am wondering if these can also be extended to other areas of high footfall that are not those specified by her, which is tourist attractions and other areas where the Government could have some influence to have those water coolers installed. That is my first supplementary question.
And secondly, is there any impediment to expanding this more quickly given that we do face a problem in terms of cultivating healthier habits amongst Singaporeans as an important national issue? I think better hydration would help with that. And this conversation I think has been going on for some time and various Members and others in the public have called for more water coolers. Is there any impediment that is holding it back?
Ms Rahayu Mahzam: Mr Speaker, in respect of other areas with higher footfall, it is something that we can certainly take into account and encourage them to install. However, in relation to the mandatory installation which is being proposed, mandatory installation entails regulation, enforcement and other resources that has to be put in place. At this juncture, drinking water is potable and it is something that is available largely from taps and that might not be the direction that we are heading to at this juncture.
Having said that I do see the importance of actually encouraging hydration, but our healthy lifestyle strategies are quite multi-faceted, and we are looking at various dimensions to increase awareness and also implementation of nudges for healthy lifestyle behaviours to the public.
Ministry of Health
7 February 2023