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Indifferent attitude reason why many public toilets can’t attain ‘BMW’ status

KUALA LUMPUR (July 13): Whenever she is in the city Fadilah Ahmad, like many other Malaysians, only uses a public toilet if she really has to. Who would want to step into a stinky lavatory with its floor wet and strewn with tissue paper, all kinds of trash and even used sanitary napkins?
“Nothing has changed,” lamented the 64-year-old mother of three, a former cleaner at a three-star hotel in the Klang Valley.
Disgusted with people who have an indifferent attitude towards keeping public amenities clean, Fadilah said many of them are selfish, more so when they need to pay to use a toilet, as they think it is the duty of the janitors to clean up after them.
“Some people feel that since they’ve paid to use a toilet or stay at a hotel, the cleaners will take care of the mess they leave behind.
“I once told off a person who dirtied the toilet at a hotel lobby after using it but she scolded me and said it was the job of the cleaner (to clean up),” Fadilah told Bernama. 
Third-world mentality?
Rashid Shukri, who manages the public toilets at a tourist spot in Batu Caves, Selangor, is also fed up with the attitude of visitors lacking civic consciousness.
In the course of his work, he has to deal with acts of vandalism as well including replacing missing taps and damaged toilet doors, not to mention repairing toilets that are clogged with toilet paper and sometimes even sanitary pads and underwear.  
“The damage gets worse during peak hours and weekends. At times, we are forced to close the toilets to carry out repairs and clean up. Sometimes we have to open the septic tank too to remove the ‘culprits’ that cause the toilets to become clogged,” he said.
Meanwhile, a check by Bernama found that the toilets at one of the main mosques in the city here were often dirty and faulty, the reason for this being the homeless people who often use the facilities there to bathe and wash their clothes. 
A representative of the mosque who declined to be named said about 200 to 500 people including tourists use the mosque’s toilets daily, requiring the imam and Bilal themselves to check their conditions from time to time.
“When there are too many users, all kinds of incidents can happen including cases of taps getting stolen. The mosque authorities have repaired the toilet facilities many times… we do it almost on a weekly basis,” he added.
A friend of this writer said he once used a toilet located at the food court in Kampung Baru and its condition filled him with disgust. Someone had vomited on the floor and it caused a foul odour, the taps were not functioning and trash overflowed from the garbage bin. It also did not provide toilet paper and liquid soap for washing hands.
It is obvious that dirty public toilets are still an issue in Malaysia. Last year, 5,241 or 20% of the 26,081 public toilets located in areas under the jurisdiction of local authorities were given a two-star or lower rating for being not clean enough or dirty. 
The toilets, inspected and evaluated under the Ministry of Local Government Development’s Clean Public Toilets programme, belonged to local councils and also included those located in restaurants, eateries, shopping centres, petrol stations, places of worship, public rest areas, government offices, tourism centres, primary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher studies.  
The government has made it clear that it wants “B.M.W-grade” public toilets in Malaysia. B.M.W is the Malay acronym for Bersih (clean), Menawan (attractive), Wangi (pleasant smelling).
Since 2025 is Visit Malaysia Year and over 23 million tourist arrivals are expected, potentially raking in an income of RM76.8 billion for the nation, media reports have quoted Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming as saying that the nation’s 155 local authorities have been asked to set up public toilet cleanliness monitoring units as the condition of the nation’s public restrooms especially those located in tourist spots and gateways reflect the image of the nation. 
Local Government Department director-general Datuk Mohd Fadzli Mohd Kenali, meanwhile, said the department together with the local authorities concerned would carry out an inspection and evaluation of all public toilets in their respective areas once every six months.
After each round of inspections and evaluations, the owners of toilets given a two-star or lower rating will be ordered to take immediate steps to clean up or improve the lavatories concerned in accordance with the specifications provided.
“The public toilets are given a rating of one to five stars based on the guidelines we use. Our evaluation covers eight aspects such as environment, structure and maintenance of cleanliness.

“A five-star rating means very clean, four-star clean, three-star satisfactory, two-star moderately clean and one-star not clean enough, while no star means dirty,” Mohd Fadzli told Bernama, adding that 20,840 public toilets nationwide were accorded three-star and higher ratings in 2022.
He said ministries and government and private agencies must take on a whole-of-nation approach in improving the cleanliness of public toilets in line with the Ministry of Local Government Development’s B.M.W-grade toilet initiative as well as the sixth sustainable development goal (SDG) which calls for universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. SDG-6 is among the 17 SDGs established by the United Nations to transform the world.
“Our department has also developed an application called MyWC to make it easier for people to find the location of a public toilet using GPS. The app also allows users to see the toilet’s rating. In fact, users can also evaluate the cleanliness of the public toilets they use to serve as a guide for others. The availability of this app helps to foster a sense of responsibility towards (the upkeep of) the cleanliness of public toilets,” he added. 
Set up squads
Former deputy director of Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Health and Environment Department Tuan R.Azraei Ramli suggested that local councils and relevant authorities such as the Ministry of Health establish special squads to monitor the cleanliness of public toilets.
He said the squads must be empowered to issue notices and compounds to those who fail to maintain or use the toilets in a proper manner.
“For example, if a toilet is found to be filthy and its facilities damaged, the squad should (have the power to) issue a notice to its owner or cleaning supervisor to get the toilet cleaned and its facilities repaired within a period of seven days. If they fail to do so, a compound must be issued to them and the squad must take over the toilet’s cleaning and repair works,” he said.
Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Educational Studies lecturer Prof Dr Syed Muhammad Syed Abdullah, meanwhile, feels the Ministry of Education should include public toilet etiquette in the school syllabus to teach children the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of public toilets.  
“Most education syllabuses only give a general description of the scope of hygiene, except for the special education curriculum (for children with learning problems)… its Year Two Life Management textbook touches on toilet cleanliness. 
“It’s necessary to improve the education syllabus as many people still don’t observe the necessary etiquette when using public toilets even though they have been exposed to practising toilet hygienic since their childhood,” he added.
Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim raised the issue of dirty school toilets and said he has instructed the Education Ministry to check the state of school toilets.
He said students need to be educated on aspects of hygiene including being trained to clean toilets.
Malaysia can, perhaps, emulate Japan and South Korea where toilet cleaning is among the mandatory activities for school students in order to educate them to become more responsible and disciplined toilet users.

Source: EdgeProp.my

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