Install more water dispensers in malls

I welcome Health Minister Gan Kim Yong's move to increase the number of water drinking points in public places(Sugar tax, more access to water to help curb diabetes; June 19).

However, based on the report, it seems the proposed move is targeted only at places under the National Environment Agency and National Parks Board.

I urge the Ministry of Health (MOH) to work with the retail industry and install drinking points in shopping malls.

I understand that doing so is no mean feat because malls are not directly under the purview of the Government. In addition, there are some challenges, including possible opposition from shops that sell drinks.

But it is not an impossible task. I have seen malls in South Korea where water dispensers are readily available for shoppers.

Water fountains also co-exist with shops selling drinks at Changi Airport.

The MOH should look into this and strike a balance between making drinking water readily available for shoppers and ensuring the interests of businesses are not compromised.

Lastly, the MOH should also ensure the drinking points are constantly well-maintained and hygienic.

For this, it would be preferable to install water dispensers, where Singaporeans can refill their water bottles, rather than have water fountains where people drink directly from the tap.

But, should installing a water fountain be inevitable, the MOH should educate Singaporeans on the proper way of using it, such as not gargling and spitting in it.

This will ensure the drinking point remains clean for the public to use.

Sean Lim Wei Xin

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2018, with the headline 'Install more water dispensers in malls'. Print Edition | Subscribe