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Speech by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources, at Restroom Association (Singapore)'s Let's Observe Ourselves (LOO) Awards 2019 on 19 November 2019 at Heartbeat@Bedok

Mr Ho Chee Kit, President of Restroom Association (Singapore)

 Distinguished Guests,

 Award Recipients,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Introduction

1     Good afternoon everyone. Let me first congratulate our award recipients who have provided clean and hygienic toilets for all of us. Thank you for your hard work and contribution to the high toilet standards in Singapore. It is apt that today’s event is held on World Toilet Day — a day designated by the United Nations to raise awareness of the sanitation crisis that many developing countries face.

2     From the video shown earlier, 4.2 billion people do not have access to proper sanitation and some 763,000 children die because of this. And indeed, when I was a young, collectors would go from house to house every night to collect night soil buckets containing toilet waste, which was terrible for your health. Imagine the hygiene and sanitation issues. And if they don’t collect the night soil buckets, you would be in trouble.

3     Singapore’s public health infrastructure and environmental standards have come a long way since those early days. We have much improved sanitation and cleaned up our polluted waterways, such as the Singapore River. I remember when I worked at City Hall many years ago, the food at the hawker centre was very good, but not the smell of the Singapore River right next to it. The clean-up of the Singapore River was made possible due to the careful planning by the government, and the efforts of communities past and present which have dedicated themselves to cleaning and greening Singapore. We must continue to maintain our high standards of cleanliness for future generations to enjoy.

Committed Owners, Operators and Cleaning Companies

4     I am pleased to see toilet owners, operators, and cleaning companies being recognised at today’s ceremony, for your efforts have helped Singapore achieve a world-recognised standard of restroom hygiene and cleanliness.

5     Many of our award recipients have started to adopt smart technologies in their toilets. Smart solutions increase productivity as defects or problems are quickly detected and cleaning companies are kept automatically informed through WhatsApp for instance, or messaging. With real-time information, restroom attendants and maintenance crew can be more effectively deployed. This allows for timely resolution of issues and cost-savings in the long term, as well as address our manpower challenges.

 6     SMRT Trains Ltd and Sentosa Development Corporation are good examples. Both organisations have leveraged technology to improve their restroom operations and raised productivity. For SMRT, more than 70 toilets in train stations have been certified as Happy Toilets. At Sentosa, Happy Toilets at Palawan East and Palawan West were awarded the ASEAN Public Toilet Award in January this year. And in May, nine of Sentosa’s Happy Toilets were upgraded from four to five stars. I think we should give them a round of applause. And I hope their achievements will inspire more owners and operators to adopt smart solutions.

Paying Tribute to Outstanding Restroom Attendants

7     While modern toilets are well-designed and equipped with smart solutions, dedicated restroom attendants still play an important role. Indeed, our maintenance crew and our toilet attendants are all very important.

8    This year, we want to recognise 10 outstanding attendants from the pre-school, school, and commercial sectors. One example is Madam Yeo Yoke Soi from APSN Katong School. Madam Yeo has worked in the cleaning sector for 16 years. She consistently upgrades herself, and has completed six WSQ environmental cleaning modules. Madam Yeo, your commitment is an inspiration to all of us and I sincerely congratulate you for receiving the highest score in this category. Let’s give a big round of applause to all our cleaning attendants.

Recognising our Young Champions

9     Today, we also want to celebrate partnerships between schools and the Restroom Association (Singapore), as they work together to cultivate gracious attitudes amongst our younger generation. Indeed, it is important to nurture good toilet habits from young. This year, four outstanding primary school students will receive awards for actively advocating a range of toilet-related causes.

10   Emma Chan from Chongfu Primary School led her team in restroom decorations, poster designs, and conducted assembly sharing sessions to encourage her peers to keep the school toilets clean. As an active member of the ‘Friend of Singa’ programme, Shuanne Seah from Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) Kellock, and her team created restroom etiquette slides for sharing with other students. Similarly, Taylor Kenneth James Tadlas from Park View Primary School shared about the importance of restroom etiquette and showing kindness to cleaning attendants, at his school assembly. He also took up an active role as a restroom inspector in his school. Well done! Meanwhile, West Wood Primary School’s Tricia Chan conducted outreach to SilverAce Eldercare Centre and to MOE Kindergarten pupils.

11   Indeed, our four young award winners have demonstrated that everyone, regardless of age, can make a positive difference to Singapore’s living environment.

CONCLUSION

12   Let me conclude. All of us, from service providers to restroom users, have a role to play in keeping our environment clean in Singapore. I would like to commend RAS for their efforts in recognising our everyday restroom heroes through these awards. My heartiest congratulations to all our award recipients for your contributions.

13   Thank you.

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