Squeaky-clean Singapore needs cleaner toilets and public awareness is one way to achieve this, a civic group said at the launch of the latest stage of its LOO campaign — Let's Observe Ourselves.
The city-state has 30,000 public restrooms and is pushing to make 70 percent of them at least "three-star" clean by 2013.
But a survey by the Restroom Association (Singapore) (RAS) found that only some 500 of the island's public toilets overall were up to its standards of working facilities, lack of litter and odor, and the provision of basic amenities such as hand soap and toilet paper.
"For us, toilet etiquette reflects Singaporeans' culture. It tells people how civilized we are," RAS President Tan Puay Hoon told reporters on Thursday, when the association unveiled its 70-page report on public restrooms as part of a campaign to improve island-wide toilet cleanliness.
"We are a First World country and we want a gracious society to reflect that."
Under the RAS Happy Toilet Programme, toilets are rated from three to five stars. A four-star toilet should have a diaper changing station or urinal for children and a five-star should have eco-friendly features such as water-saving taps.
To call attention to its 3-year blueprint on public restroom and a public awareness program urging users to adopt proper restroom etiquette in the Heartlands area, site of many government-built apartment blocks, the RAS launched LOO@Heartlands, the first coffee shop with a five-star toilet.
The RAS said it would also distribute packets of pocket tissues with restroom etiquette messages only to toilet visitors during peak hours at shops nearby.
"Singapore's effort in branding itself as one of the most liveable cities in Asia is exemplary," the association said in its report, which was submitted to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in September.
"Unfortunately, the cleanliness of our public restrooms has not been in tandem," the report added.
The RAS was founded in 1998 as a non-profit organization and says it is dedicated to promoting the cleanliness, design and functionality of public toilets in Singapore.
The LOO Campaign began in 2008. The RAS has also conducted the Happy Toilet School Education program and is a founding member of the World Toilet Organization and the Keep Singapore Beautiful Movement.