Speech by Mr Baey Yam Keng, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Sustainability and the Environment, at the LOO (Let’s Observe Ourselves) Awards Ceremony on 16 November 2023
Mr Ho Chee Kit, President, Restroom Association (Singapore),
Mr Allen Ang, First Vice President, Singapore Green Building Council,
Ms Gloria Tan, Executive Director, Public Hygiene Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1 Good afternoon. I thank the Restroom Association (Singapore), or RAS, for inviting me to the 15th edition of your Let’s Observe Ourselves (LOO) Awards. In addition to recognising the award recipients, the LOO Awards is also organised to commemorate the World Toilet Day. Marked as an official United Nations international observance, World Toilet Day has been celebrated on 19 November every year since 2013. It aims to encourage action to address the global sanitation crisis that affects billions of people worldwide. Although in Singapore, our sanitation system is already well developed, we still commemorate World Toilet Day to remind ourselves that we should not take proper sanitation for granted.
2 Let me first start by thanking RAS for partnering the National Environment Agency’s annual Clean Public Toilets Campaign. This year’s campaign will be launched in a few days’ time, on 21 November, at One Punggol. This campaign will encourage everyone to keep public toilets clean and pleasant, as part of a culture of social responsibility, in our community. Thank you, Mr Ho, and RAS for your strong support.
3 I am happy to note that even as we encourage the community to do their part in keeping public toilets clean for all to enjoy, the RAS continues its efforts to reach out to other stakeholder groups. As noted by Mr Ho in his welcome address, RAS through its regular campaigns, collaborates with premises owners on the Happy Toilet Programme to provide clean and well-maintained restrooms, continually encourage the cleaning industry to meet hygiene standards, educates users to be socially responsible, and recognises organisations and individuals for their contributions to clean and hygienic restroom environments.
4 It is encouraging to hear from Mr Ho that the ongoing LOO Campaign @ Hawker Centres has so far been well-received. I hope that the LOO Campaign @ Coffeeshops, which I will be launching later, will similarly achieve positive outcomes.
LOO Award Recipients
5 Since 2009, the RAS has been organising the LOO Awards annually to recognise committed organisations and individuals from various sectors including private, government, and education, for contributing to clean restrooms at their premises. Most importantly, we gather here today to recognise the tireless efforts of restroom attendants from the environmental services sector in maintaining our restrooms.
6 My heartiest congratulations to the 57 award recipients of the LOO Awards this year. I would like to highlight some award recipients in my speech today.
7 The recipient of this year’s LOO Awards in the Organisations (Community Sector) is a group of undergraduates from the Singapore Management University (SMU). With the goal to increase awareness of and improve public toilet hygiene, 170 SMU undergraduates and their lecturer surveyed about 90 per cent of hawker centres and coffeeshops island-wide on their toilet cleanliness. The findings from their project, named Waterloo, were compiled into a Toilet Cleanliness Index (TCI). According to the study, two-thirds of people surveyed believe that the cleanliness level of toilets in hawker centres and coffee shops has not improved or is even worse than three years ago. This is not very good news. Management experts often say, “You can’t improve what you don’t measure.” So now with these findings by the SMU undergraduates will provide useful insights for RAS to better formulate solutions and to work with coffeeshops to improve toilet cleanliness. The student’s lecturer, Ms Rosie Ching, who spearheaded the project and guided the students through the survey, will be receiving the individual LOO Award.
8 Other than the community, premises owners and operators play an important role in maintaining good restroom hygiene. Many are using technology to effectively clean and maintain the cleanliness of toilets, thereby providing better experience for users. For example, some premises operators are using monitoring devices that instantly alert them to rectify to any lapses such as the presence of odour as well as the lack of hand soap and toilet paper. These devices also provide data that helps operators better determine the peak hours for more timely cleaning. Having these technology aids will translate to clean restrooms for users. The recipients of the LOO Awards in the Organisations category, Marina Bay Sands Pte Ltd and Sentosa Development Corporation, had not only adopted such technologies, but they also engaged companies to install sensors and feedback systems in their restrooms.
9 Today, we are also recognising 30 individuals who are very important in keeping restrooms clean. These are our restroom cleaning attendants. Clean toilets would not be possible without the dedication of our restroom cleaning attendants. As a gesture of our deep respect and gratitude to them, let us all, give them a round of applause.
10 This year, we have two cleaning attendants who obtained the highest judging score. One is Mdm Wong Lai Ying, from LS2 Services Pte Ltd with 12 years of cleaning experience. She maintains 5-star restrooms at Paya Lebar Quarter Mall. She also completed 4 Workforce Skills Qualifications environmental cleaning modules including restroom cleaning. Another is Mdm Lim Siew Too, who has 27 years of cleaning experience in the preschool sector. She maintains restrooms at PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Nanyang Blk 934. She was trained in restroom cleaning conducted by the RAS and the preschool where she works. Her preschool is also receiving the Platinum award for their 3-year certification under the Happy Toilets @ Preschools Programme. Well done, Mdm Wong and Mdm Lim! Thank you for your commendable efforts to promote good public restroom hygiene and cleanliness.
11 Regardless of our age or profession, we can each play our part to make a positive impact to the restroom environment. The six recipients of the LOO Awards in the Individual category this year are shining examples of how small efforts by each of us can bring about big outcomes.
12 Darell Cheng, a student leader from Chongfu School, took on key responsibilities for various activities such as involving students in making flower origami and writing notes to show appreciation to the cleaning attendants. He also taught his fellow Prefects how to use online software to decorate the student and staff restrooms with We Bare Bears, Totoro, Mario, Mobile Legend, and Pokemon themes. It makes our toilet a lot more interesting. Darell taking the initiative to show kindness to the attendants and encouraging the participation of his friends has improved the toilet environment in his school.
13 East Spring Primary School’s Operations Manager Mr Fairus Bin Ismail. He designed a comfortable break room in the school for cleaning attendants by including a sofa and wall fans in the room. He also created storage areas for cleaning equipment on every level of the school for the convenience of the cleaning attendants. This minimises climbing of stairs between floors for cleaning and cleaning time is more efficiently used. Like Mr Fairus, Mr Vengadasalam Ravichandir also created a room for the cleaning attendants of Northland Primary School and he suggested an appreciation day for them. Like Mr Fairus and Mr Ravichandir, we can all show appreciation to our hardworking cleaning attendants.
14 Since good restroom etiquette should be inculcated from young, the younger generation will need to be educated by exemplary teachers. Preschool teachers Ms Choi Oi Chan and Mdm Rohaini Binte Ahmad educated preschoolers of PCF Sparkletots Preschool @ Nanyang Blk 934, and appointed some students as young Clean Environment Ambassadors to check the preschool toilets for cleanliness. The preschoolers were also taught to take ownership of their roles by monitoring and keeping the toilets clean and hygienic.
15 Finally, allow me to recognise the four companies which will receive certificates for smart restroom products. Certification demonstrates that their products are eco-friendly, reliable, and durable, thereby minimising technical malfunctions. I am happy to note that a recipient from last year has gotten another one of their products certified. I hope more companies will follow in their footsteps and that more premises owners and operators will install certified products in their restrooms.
16 My heartiest congratulations to all award recipients for your contributions. I also thank the RAS for inviting me to your flagship event. I wish RAS success in the coming year, and I urge all stakeholders, especially coffeeshop owners and operators, to collaborate with the RAS to improve toilet cleanliness in coffeeshops.
17 Let us all join hands and work together to ensure our continued access to clean and hygienic restrooms and to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 6 of safe toilets and water for all by 2030.
18 各位嘉宾，大家下午好， 今天我们这个典礼主要的目的是要表扬那些在公共厕所卫生清洁方面做出贡献的公司以及我们的清洁工友们。公共厕所是我们每个人每天都需要用到的。所以保持干净卫生的公共厕所在新加坡是非常重要的。保持环境的卫生清洁是每个人的责任。在这方面，我们的清洁工友也是功不可没的。 他们的工作非常幸苦， 他们任劳任怨为我们提供一个清洁、卫生的环境。所以，在这里，我要邀请大家以热烈掌声鼓励我们的清洁工友。希望我们能够继续努力，为我们新加坡的公共厕，所包括在小贩中心和咖啡店，能够更清洁、更卫生，让我们以我们的公共厕所为豪。因为这是一个社会文明。让我们一起努力。谢谢。