KOTA KINABALU: A delegation of about 2,000 including foreign participants will be in Sabah to discuss about the appropriate way to use toilets.
The delegation which will include heads of cities in Malaysia and 70 other countries as well as government agencies and NGOs, will participate in the Second World Toilet Convention to be held at the Padang Merdeka on Nov 19 and 20. The first convention was held in South Korea in 2011.
The main objective of the convention is to discuss and adapt a resolution by Malaysia and all the participating countries that would set the course of a five-year road map toward improving the quality of Malaysian public toilets that meets the Quality Restroom Association Malaysia (QRAM) stringent standards and flush out bad toilet habits.
The plan will be implemented in three phases involving public communication, advocacy and education with a long list of activities that will engage with various sectors of the public.
QRAM Sabah vice chairman Damian Chai said that the convention will mark the new beginning for Malaysia whose quality of public toilets have often received criticisms from foreigners and locals alike.
“We don’t always feel comfortable when talking about toilet matters because it’s regarded as taboo or private and personal. But we must face the fact that the quality of our public toilets are still far from the minimum standard of what a quality restroom should be. It’s time to change this. We realise that it’s going to be a long way but there has to be a start.”
Chai, a strong advocate for quality restrooms and was instrumental in the successful bid for the convention to be held in the state from the World Toilet Association, said that the international event in November will serve as the best starting point because it will be the first to be held in Malaysia and involve multiple stakeholders.
“The delegation will represent every sector of the society. Everyone will be there to discuss how we want our toilets to be and the resources we need to achieve it. When we have resolved we’ll take it to the level that we all have agreed,” he added.
But he admits that the task will be challenging especially in trying to inculcate good toilet culture in society. Nonetheless, he insists it has to be done because bad toilet culture and poor infrastructure as well as services can translate into huge losses in terms of revenue to the state and country.
“We don’t want our visitors to shy away from our state and country just because of the condition of our toilets and public bad habits in toilet usage,” he said adding that it can also lead to other issues as well such as public health.
In line with inculcating good toilet culture to the public, the event will feature strong elements of local culture in the design of the venue to send a message to the public that good toilet practice is their culture.
Chai announced that the event venue will showcase quality functional toilets with a touch of local culture. The impressive creative designs which will include the convention hall will be done by a well known designer, Desmind Ho.
The prime minister is expected to launch the convention to be held also in conjunction with the World Toilet Day for Malaysia.
There will be exhibitions from all the participating countries for the public.
Another public attraction will be the logo of the event, featuring a mountain tree shrew using a nephentes lowii, a plant said to be only found in Borneo, as a lavatory. It is inspired by the actual animal answering nature’s call in the plant. The rare photo was taken by a photographer.
“Even good toilet culture is in the natural world,” Chai said.