Singapore has always pride itself for being one of the cleanest cities in the world. Her progression from a third world to a first world state saw a remarkable clean-up of the country. Among the more notable projects undertaken include the clean-up of The Kallang Basin and the Singapore River. While the country’s cleanliness remains applaudable, a walk along the streets will reveal that some Singaporeans, on the other hand, struggle to keep up with their country’s image.
The main problem I have with the issue of cleanliness in Singapore is how heavily managed it is. I do not have a bone to pick with the fact that hundreds of cleaners are employed to maintain standards daily. Rather, what worries me the most about the afore-mentioned fact is what it actually implies of Singaporeans, that the concept of personal hygiene/cleanliness does not seem to come naturally to some people. I find it ridiculous that campaigns have to be carried out to encourage Singaporeans to be clean. The handing out of penalties has also been practiced to coerce Singaporeans into taking greater responsibility for the country’s cleanliness. For most, the choice to not litter is a result of the desire to be spared getting heavy fines, not the intrinsic motivation to uphold personal standards of hygiene. Such actions speak volume of how some Singaporeans have a total disregard for cleanliness.
Speaking of which, I find the levels of personal sanitation here absolutely appalling. Many do not shower in the morning and I swear I can smell them when they come near me. Some even go further to take matters of personal hygiene to public. They dig their ears and noses and flick whatever it was that they unearthed on the floor of or on adjacent seats on public transport. Some clips their nails. Some scratch their armpits. Many spit on roads, pavements, at bustops, in lifts and out of windows. At hawker centers, people spit chicken bones and crab shells (just to name a few) out onto the floor. It is no wonder then that the government does not even trust us with chewing gum!
Remember also when urinating in lifts used to be such a problem? I cannot begin to fathom how anyone in the right state of mind would even do such a thing! The problem abated only when the usual fines were imposed. Sensors were also installed in lifts to detect urine and anyone who dared to pee would have had their cars stalled and locked.
Through the years, I have had countless encounters with unhygienic Singaporeans, some of which I have chronicled through various rantings on Facebook and Twitter, and I am sure that many others have had similar unpleasant run-ins too. From my observations, the people who are mainly guilty of transcending social norms when it comes to personal hygiene/sanitation tend to be male and from the older generation. Their preferred choice of location for committing their crime? On buses and on trains. Once, I saw a person scratch his scalp before wiping the natural oils of his hair on the bus window! I was obviously disgusted.
On a trip to Japan a couple of years back, my twin commented that despite the lack of rubbish bins in the cities that he visited, they remained generally clean. He was surprised to discover that the Japanese actually kept their litter in their bags and only disposed them off at home. While credit for the clean streets of Japan must also be extended to the road sweepers employed, it is important to note that the Japanese take it upon themselves to ensure cleanliness. For them, the issue of national hygiene is a personal responsibility.
It seems that in order for Singapore to be a clean city, it must always be a ‘fine’ city. It truly saddens me that the use of the proverbial ‘stick’ is one of the only effective ways to guarantee acceptable hygiene standards here. For a first-world country, we do have an odd take on the city-state’s cleanliness. Some choose to believe that Singapore’s hygiene standards should be none of their concern. They argue that since people are paid to clean, they should not have to clean up after themselves in public (i.e. “I litter, you clean” or “I make a mess, you clean”)
Singaporeans should emulate the Japanese and adopt a more positive outlook when it comes to our cleanliness. They must learn that each one of us has part to play in maintaining the country’s image. Singapore’s cleanliness is a shared responsibility and it all starts at the individual level.
As we have rapidly entered into spring and summer more vastly approaches, it is time to make those small or large investments in sunglasses. We compiled a gallery of photos of some really cool sunglass styles that range from inexpensive to… very expensive (depending on your definition of the two). Choosing the right style of sunglasses is essential. Knowing what works for you and your style is more important than just buying what’s cool to have. Taking the time to find that perfect frame might be an investment on it’s own but will be worth it in the long run. There are a few factors to consider when choosing the right style such as, your hair style, face shape, and skin complexion. Take a look at our top picks of sunglass styles for this season from Urban Outfitters and Mr. Porter (more at www.beauxhomme.com)
Ralph Lauren Cardigan