Pooh-poohing bad public hygiene

Mr Jack Sim is the founder of the World Toilet Organisation, a non-governmental group that has championed clean toilets and sanitation for over a decade.
PHOTO: Pooh-poohing bad public hygiene

SINGAPORE - The WTO has waded into the debate about whether children should be allowed to urinate or defecate in public after the recent heated debate in Hong Kong.

But it is not the World Trade Organisation but Singapore's World Toilet Organisation speaking up.

Public education is key, the group's founder, Mr Jack Sim, told the South China Morning Post.

He was discussing the controversy sparked by an online video of a Chinese couple allowing their daughter to urinate in a busy Mong Kok street in Hong Kong.

Said Mr Sim: "Make the message clear that people will die if they keep doing that. The flies will go to the poop and spread disease."

He said the people in Hong Kong should help Chinese visitors understand the importance of hygiene and he offered his organisation's help to create a memorable public education campaign.

The WTO has launched initiatives like the "Don't eat s***" campaign, bringing humour to serious public health issues.

The group is linked to the United Nations Environment Program, the Asian Development Bank and the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, reported news website Shanghaiist.com

Last Wednesday, Hong Kong commerce secretary Gregory So urged Hong Kongers not to turn a blind eye to tourists misbehaving and to instead educate them in good manners.


Mr Sim noted that after 2003's Sars crisis in Hong Kong, which killed 299 people, and frequent outbreaks like avian flu, the people in Hong Kong would be more sensitive to hygiene issues.

He suggested that celebrities could help raise an awareness of these issues.

"Something like, 'Toilet habits reflect your dignity... Make hygiene a status issue."

With more awareness, Chinese visitors would eventually watch their own behaviour.

"I am sure there are people from the mainland who don't act this way, who are upset that Hong Kong people are bundling them in with people who do," he said.

"They will be scolding their own and that will be helpful."

This article was published on April 5 in The New Paper.Get The New Paper for more stories.