Water System and Business of Singapore


Singapore is a small island.  Historically, it has relied most part of its water supply to Malaysia, specifically from Johor Bahar.  Singapore bears all costs for building and maintenance of water plants there.  This was arranged by negotiation, and Singapore is on dependent side, so in the long term this dependence may turn out to become severe weakness to this small island nation.

In Japan, too, the rivers and the sea were contaminated by not-well-treated household waste or even industrial wastes until 1960s.  Minamata disease, mercury poisoing, is one example of the results of such industry pollutions.  ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachael Carson published in1962 was, as you know well, a warning to the modern society destructing natural environment through mass production and mass consumption of our modern industrial economy.  Until some decades ago, household wastewater and garbage were being thrown into the rivers in Singapore, too.

Aware of the situation, Singapore government launched a major water policy including its secured water supply plan  as one of her long-term national plans.

On March 19th , we visited Marina Barrage  (Ref.1) after the annual A*STAR Board meeting (Ref.1).  Not only the entire complex was grand and public-friendly, but its history, plans, processes, relations with other water industries, visions, strategies, project plans, and so on were very admirable, so I felt that this national project is good and strong as a whole.

Singapore organized Water EXPO in 2009 and displayed a package of water businesses that attracted people’s attentions.  On the other hand, exhibition of Japan appeared to be a gathering of good ‘components, parts’, a difference pointed out in the report of NHK television broadcast also.  This difference could be fatal in international competition because Japanese companies fail to present a ‘total package’ of the big system.

Singapore crafted and presented Singapore International Water Week  very actively this June, apparently working very hard to appeal to new developing countries its water supply and management total system.

Japan was known for its good water management technologies, and until very recently the world used to regard Japan as ‘the nation that has most reliable water supply technologies’ but where did this good reputation go, I wonder?  In truth, Japan is only competing over the quality and ability of parts products of less than 5% of the total water supply system such as salt water filter treatment.

Are we going to be ‘Galapagosnized parts manufacturer’ (Ref.1) in water business as we have been in cellular phones, nuclear plants, or solar panels?  Will we serve as subcontracts in this field also?