MANY foreign visitors to Malaysia have nice things to say about the country but they are appalled by our public toilets, including those in shops and eateries.
Despite all the campaigns for clean toilets, we do not seem to have achieved much and the subject of poor toilet culture is far too obvious.
Audit findings by the local government indicated the majority of our public toilets were found to be unsatisfactory.
One only has to use our public toilets to realise how filthy they are.
Even toilets in shopping complexes are not clean and odourless, despite the fact that in some of these places, the public have to pay for use of the facility.
Toilets in most food establishments and restaurants are not clean either.
It all boils down to a question of maintenance, usage and, of course, the culture of cleanliness.
The public toilets along our expressways, as well, are generally poor and there is a lot of room for improvement.
On the one hand, there is the problem of poor maintenance.
Then there is the issue of people who have not learnt how to use our public toilets appropriately.
There is also the problem of vandalism in our public toilets.
Due to lack of maintenance, some of the toilet door locks are not functioning and even hooks/hangers inside the cubicles are missing.
It is high time for the public to be educated on how to use toilets in a proper manner. There is also the need to instil a culture of cleanliness with regard to public toilets.
In short, we need to revolutionise our thinking so that everyone will feel a responsibility to help keep our public toilets clean all the time.
We are good at developing projects and providing state-of-the-art buildings and equipment. But we are often found wanting when it comes to maintaining them and making them function properly.
In the course of my work, I travel all over Malaysia and many a time I have visited community halls to participate in meetings or seminars only to find that the facilities there are in a deplorable state, particularly the toilets.
Toilets are not only the issue. What about our roadside drains, roads, backlanes, public parks, and bus and taxi stations where maintenance and safety are often neglected.
It is time for everyone, the local authorities, government agencies, the private sector and every Malaysian to examine their shortcomings in the area of safety, service and maintenance, and do something about it.
Maintenance and service have never been Malaysia’s strong suit although the country is internationally known as a developing country with world-class infrastructure.
Ensuring that Malaysia becomes a first-world country with first-world infrastructure necessitates world-class service and maintenance.
Improving the country’s image is not only the responsibility of the authorities, building owners and the service industry. It is also the duty of each and every citizen.
Every citizen has to be more civic-conscious.
They must use public amenities responsibly, not litter and be more conscious about safety as well as care for the environment.
All these good habits should be instilled and nurtured from a young age. In this regard, parents must be good role models for their children.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE