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Public Toilets: A Gritty Issue

  • SumoMe

Singapore may have the most modern sanitation system, but its public toilets are not clean enough says Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Lim Swee Say, at the World Toilet Summit and Expo.

By Penny K

First of all, who knew there was such a thing as World Toilet Summit and Expo? But more importantly, why not, because we could really use a wake-up call where it comes to our public toilets.

I’ve fallen prey to the several monsters of public toilets: shoe marks on toilet seats, residual pee drizzles where you butt is supposed to rest; I’ve seen it all and I’m telling the surprises you find in public toilets are neither pretty nor fun.

Over the years, the government has rolled out campaigns urging Singaporeans to keep public toilets clean. The most embarrassing one would have to be “Aim Well”:

Aim Well

According to expat blogger, Angry Angmo, these campaigns reminded him of his Kindergarten school days.

I had a good laugh spotting such a “Comic Strip” in our offices wash rooms for the first time and felt reminded of my Kindergarten times when we had similar pictures hanging next to the tiny toilet bowls.

At The World Toilet Summit and Expo, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, Mr Lim Swee Say called on Singaporeans to get their act together to make the toilets among the cleanest in the world.

Despite boasting one of the world’s most modern sanitation systems, with 100 per cent coverage of households and public places, we are severely challenged in area of public toilet etiquette.

Jack Sim, founder, World Toilet Organisation, said: “People have been asking me how come Singapore can host Formula One but can’t keep the coffee shop toilet clean. Once we have the focus on enforcement and encouragement and whatever policy that is needed, it will happen.”

We have a thing or two to learn from the Japanese for whom being clean is very important, so much so that some Japanese words for ‘clean’ can be used to describe beauty. The word kirei (きれい, 綺麗), for instance, can be defined as “pretty, beautiful; clean; pure; orderly. Never mind that it’s not in our culture to associate cleanliness with beauty. The fact of the matter is until we attune ourselves to the need to be clean for the purpose of self, and others, the cleanliness of our public toilets will always remain a gritty issue.

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