Friday, 27 April 2007

No Littering in Singapore?

There’s an article in page 35 of The Straits Times today titled, Singapore Wows Vancouver Visitor. Written by a Vancouver architect, planner and property developer, Michael Geller, the article was full of praise for our country; especially its cleanliness. “During my stay, I did not see any litter on the streets.” he declared.

002a - No Littering
“CLEAN LIVING: No littering, no graffiti … Singapore has to be the cleanest country in the world.”

Really? Maybe if Mr Geller had visited blogger, Walter’s estate, or those of some of Walter’s readers who left comments in his blog, he might have a change of opinion. Of course, he should make his visit early in the morning before our army of cleaners start their rounds.

One of my Japanese 5S teachers at the National Productivity Board, Mr K. Tsuchiya once told us that there are 3 classes of workplaces.

1) A First Class workplace is one where nobody litters and yet everybody is picking up any rubbish that is found.

2) A Second Class workplace is one where some people litter but there are others who pick up the rubbish.

3) A Third Class workplace is one where many people litter but nobody is picking up the rubbish.

Walter’s article about the littering problem in his estate prompted me to ask, Is Singapore 1st, 2nd or 3rd class by Mr Tsuchiya’s yardstick?

There was a time when I liked to ask my trainees what they thought. Usually, most of them would say 2nd class. We have many litter bugs here, but we also employ many cleaners to clean up after them. However, judging by what Walter wrote and what his readers have commented, I suspect we are not even 2nd class because, the litterbugs seem to doing a more efficient job than the cleaners. Hence, nowadays, I dare not put the question to my trainees anymore, for fear of hearing the truth.

As a 5S trainer, I liked to collect newspaper articles regarding the littering/cleanliness problem in Singapore. I post a few of them here. Take a look for yourself and see if you agree with Mr Geller that there’s no littering in Singapore.

002b - Dirty Estate 1995
The picture above is from 1995

002c - Dirty Estate 2005
This picture is from 2005. See any improvement?

002d - Dirty HDB Block

002e - Dirty Park1