Saturday, March 31, 2007

On dirty toilets and being hygienic

Deputy Tourism Minister Datuk Donald Lim said dirty toilets are the most common complaint foreign tourists have about Malaysia - I read in the Sun newspaper. It's not a surprise. Even he didn't deny that the condition of many public toilets leaves much room for improvements.

Also quoted in New Straits Times, Malaysian Tourist Guides Council president Jimmy Leong Wie Kong said: "Tourists are quite shocked when they visit our toilets. The toilets are dirty, wet, smelly and are often without toilet paper or soap."

It's enlightening to see them agree that this is a problem. Some actions have been taken, or planned, I guess, like introducing college courses in lavatory management. College course? Seriously, it's part of what Malaysia is doing to flush away its insanitary reputation. Or the "high-tech, self-cleaning toilets" that cost RM 400k each, as Screenshots blogged. (If I understood correctly, these sophisticated toilets will auto-flush. Kind of high-tech in early 90's to me. But still, thumbs up for providing this kind of toilets in public areas.)

What's sad is the main motive to solve this seems to be the tourism or image from outside, and not to be truly clean and hygienic - which is more the root cause.

“Try to imagine dirty, disgusting toilets that make you nauseous — these will
surely give us a negative image,” Najib Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister,
said at a speech last year at the National Toilet Expo and Forum.

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Unspun has brought up the issue of dirty habit a few months back. This is perhaps true for most of the cultures in Asia. But there should be a shift in the habit - the one that is aware of personal hygiene.

Being hygienic, by the way, is not too difficult. We can all start with a discipline in washing our hands. And please dry them appropriately before getting off the toilet. I always wonder what it could be on the door handle when it's wet.