The tragic electrocution of 15 year old Tan Yao Bin while he was taking a shower due to improper wiring and a faulty circuit breaker in his HDB flat has been called an “unfortunate misadventure”. Based on reports however, this sounds more like death caused by gross negligence rather than an “unfortunate misadventure”. Gross negligence not just by the two workmen who connected the water heater but by the original builders of the HDB flat!
First and foremost, why are unlicensed electricians permitted to hold themselves out as able to connect electronic products? Is there criminal misrepresentation here? Secondly, it would appear that the unlicensed electricians had connected the wires based on “what was already there.” This would imply that it was already unsafe to begin with and an accident waiting to happen. What does this say of the original HDB works? Has the HDB been shoddy in their work?
What causes even more concern is one workman’s statement that based on his experience with over 30 HDB blocks, almost 78 per cent of water heaters were connected in this manner. Does this mean that so many other people are susceptible to this risk of electrocution every time they take a shower? That is a scary thought! Especially in hot and humid Singapore where people take multiple showers a day! How many times a day are we unknowingly subjecting ourselves to these risks of electrocution just by the simple act of taking a shower?
The coroner has cautioned on the importance of safety in handling electronic objects but I don’t think this adequately deals with the case at hand because in this case, the wiring was faulty! How can we be more careful if it is the product that is faulty to begin with? She furthered sounded a word of caution to workmen to be more “mindful” but this isn’t about mindfulness! This is negligence!
Will there be an investigation on all HDB blocks to ensure that the wiring is not faulty? Considering that the workmen were simply reinstating “what was already there”, this could mean that this faulty wiring is prevalent! If we are to prevent another senseless death such as this death, nothing short of an investigation and rectification of all flats that have this type of faulty plugs and wiring will suffice! To call this senseless and needless death an “unfortunate misadventure” trivialises life and makes a mockery out of the meaning of accountability.