An Open Letter To The Ministry Of Toilet (if any?!)
Dear Minister of Toilet (if any?),
I am just an ordinary fellow Malaysian citizen and it has recently come to my attention that almost all English newspaper in Malaysia run at least one article on dirty toilets in Malaysia this week. Hence, in this letter I will explore on what is going wrong with our public toilets and why it is still happening in Malaysia.
Our PM longs for vision 2020 when we “technically” will achieve the high-income country label but maybe PM should also pay a visit to toilets in government premises (public hospital included) before we can proudly claim to be one. Our ex-premier introduce the “Look East Policy”, however, while the land of the rising sun has one of the best toilet in the world, right here at bolehland, our toilet is still tidak boleh.
I travelled quite extensively around ASEAN region and it is with regret that I conclude that all international airports in the region has at least clean toilets (not to mention high-tech features) except our very own KLIA2. If we can’t even keep the toilet in KLIA clean, how can we expect toilets in the “kampong” to be clean? Speaking of this, I recalled my personal experience of a train ride from Bangkok to Johor Bahru, a trip that took me 2 nights on the train. I must say that although the Thai train was a bit older than the KTMB train but they manage to keep their toilet clean and water is always available on the train for one to brush their teeth or clean-up. However, the same cannot be said of KTMB toilet which is both smelly and wet, with water not always available. Such irony when Malaysia is supposedly “richer” than our Thai neighbour. And if you would like to argue that I’ve never seen the toilet in China or so… Let me just tell you that at least China can manage to make their toilets in airport clean, while we can’t!
Now, I would like to discuss why this problem still exists after many years of economic growth. While we may laugh at the “Ministry of Toilet” remarks by our Singaporean neighbour, perhaps it’s high-time that we seriously consider getting one if we still can’t make our toilet clean! I believe the root of the problem stems from our public school’s toilet. If our children are used to a dirty toilet which is wet and smelly, it is only natural for them to think that all public toilets are the same and so they will have no responsibility of making it clean for the next user. If you’ve gone through the public schooling system in Malaysia like I am, I believe that you would pretty much agree with me that you always try to avoid “shitting” in school due to the deplorable state of the toilet. I think the same can be said of our public school canteen but that will be a story for another time.
Secondly, it’s our “tidak apa”/selfish attitude that stems from our social norm. Let’s just admit that most Malaysians simply do not care about other users. Most of us just make sure that we finish up whatever business we need to do and just get out of there ASAP with no regard of the next user. Maybe it’s about time we learn not just the technology from Japan but also the attitude and social etiquette of Japanese. I once observed in Malaysia, a Japanese mum picking up the batter crisps from fried chicken that fell down to the floor. I bet none of us Malaysians would do that because we are just numb to all these.
On how to solve these problems, I shall leave it to our “talented” cabinet ministers to solve it but as we all know it all starts with education. So, can our toilet ever be clean? Only Malaysians can answer that and stop pointing fingers to the foreign workers!
***This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of DiscoverJB.
KTMB toilet photo: Seth Mazow