Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 9, 2007

Malaysia tries to flush away its insanitary reputation

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:18 am

TimesOnline: Among the countries of South-East Asia, Malaysia has much to be proud of, from its immaculate tropical beaches and ancient rain forests to the skyscrapers of Kuala Lumpur, the capital. And yet a perpetual anxiety lurks at the back of the Malaysian mind: the execrable state of the nation’s toilets.
Now the Government is to introduce college courses in lavatory management as part of a continuing “toilet revolution” intended to protect locals and tourists from smelly and unclean conveniences. The country will also mount a toilet exhibition and institute a text message hotline on which sub-standard lavatories can be reported to the authorities.
The course will cover loo design, maintenance and hygiene and will enrol its first students within the next three years, Robert Lau, the deputy Housing and Local Government Minister, said yesterday.
Malaysians are intensely conscious of public toilets that would have Thomas Crapper, pioneer of the flush toilet, turning in his grave. This year the country is mounting an ambitious drive for overseas tourists, and the Government has set out to shame its citizens into improving their habits.
“Try to imagine dirty, disgusting toilets that make you nauseous — these will surely give us a negative image,” Najib Razak, the Deputy Prime Minister, said at a speech last year at the National Toilet Expo and Forum.
“Good, clean toilets are associated with good health, good manners, good upbringing, good housekeeping and civilisation. That is why the Government feels this must be a national effort.”
Apart from unpleasant smells and dirt, and the absence of toilet paper and soap, the problem stems from the transition from the traditional Asian squat toilet to Western-style seats. Tourists sometimes complain of finding footprints on the seats, where previous users have stood. The same problem occurs in other parts of Asia. Until a few years ago, Western-style toilets in Japan bore diagrams illustrating their correct use.

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