Water Supply Problems

We make our dreary work-logged lives more comfortable with our privileges, some little luxuries that we allow ourselves to indulge in. These include our smartphones with their ensuing telco bills, our somewhat branded goods that cost us anywhere between a few hundred and a few thousand ringgit, and our residential water filtration systems of varying technological capacity the mineral content, the purity, even the taste.

Access to clean water is a right. Clean water is a basic necessity. We are not privileged to have access to it on a daily basis. We take for granted the water supplied by LAKU to our homes, which we use for our communal meals as well as our most intimate rituals. We barely even notice this convenience until the occasional supply interruptions arise and then we indignantly rise up to file our complaints to LAKU.

And yet, there are families surviving in isolated undeveloped pockets in the outskirts of this lovely resort city who are without basic access to clean water.

These poor families are under-educated, damaged, and marginalized by society. The adults clean their bodies and those of their children with the water from muddy ponds teeming with microorganisms. The more fortunate among us may scoff at this ludicrous stupidity: why the use of disgusting muddy water why not just collect and use the much-cleaner rainwater? We may turn out noses up at them, faulting them for laziness, for lack of intelligence. Study hard, or youll end up like that dirty man over there.

The unfortunate families know better. Despite their lack of education, they know that it is only logical that they bathe themselves with pond scum because clean water is scarce. They do collect rainwater, but they need it for cooking and drinking. Clean water is prioritized. Clean water is a limited and precious resource.

We, the fortunate ones, are now aghast that the poorer amongst us are surviving without proper water supplies. We are horrified by the mental image of an old lady washing her face with a mixture of mud and algae.

We cry out for politicians to do their part, for these elected civil servants to do their duty to society. But some politicians do visit these marginalized families, each visit by pure coincidence around the election season. Some politicians do their part, where they can, by supplying each family with a large high-quality water tank to aid them in their rainwater collection efforts.

Sadly, these wonderful tanks so kindly provided by the politicians are never filled to the brim; it never rains enough to properly fill them up. The unfortunate families count their blessings where they can. They are grateful it doesnt rain too much in this lovely resort city, for their roofs would leak and their humble lodgings would be flooded.

Why do these families that exist on the very fringes of our society have to go without proper piped water supply? LAKU informs the public via its website that apart from the identity card of the owner, water supply applications require the Land Title or Sale and Purchase Agreement or Temporary Occupation Lease or any other documents which can show proof of ownership.

It is here that these unfortunate families fall short. They are under-educated and may have fallen prey to the greed of others. They may have lived on these lands for generations, but without proper documentation. They may have been relieved of their ancestral lands through unscrupulous means by devious businessmen and corrupt politicians. They are doing their best to survive without legal recourse in this bureaucratic society.

Miri community is a forum visited by many highly-educated and well-connected individuals. The question now is: what can we do to help? How can we help these families help themselves by first allowing them access to the basic necessities? Its only water.