The National Environment Agency's explanation that "gutter oil" taken from grease traps was not sent to hawkers comes as a relief to consumers ("'Gutter oil' not sent to hawkers, says NEA"; last Thursday).
Singapore has an excellent track record in food hygiene and food safety.
Businesses here are accustomed to strict controls, so we enjoy the reputation of being providers of high-quality products.
Recently, I was at an airport in Spain, where there was a long queue at a counter for tourists to claim tax refunds.
The officers would ask the traveller to show his receipt and the actual goods purchased, before approving any refunds.
The process of opening one's luggage to show the purchases was taking a long time, and as the queue grew longer, the officers discussed ways to speed up the process.
They decided to exempt holders of certain passports from showing their purchases, and Singapore citizens were among those exempted as the officers considered Singaporeans honest people.
This is an example of how the individual Singaporean benefits from our collective reputation.
But we should not rest on our laurels and assume unscrupulous activities will never occur in Singapore. The authorities must be vigilant to ensure that incidents of using "gutter oil" for cooking never take place here.
It takes generations to build up a good reputation but only a few incidents to destroy it. Every Singaporean has a duty to uphold our collective reputation, and I applaud the individuals who reported the people collecting waste oil. As long as we stay vigilant, we stand a good chance of nipping unscrupulous acts in the bud.
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