Forum: Duty of everyone to speak up against bad hygiene habits

A commuter wearing a mask at Pasir Ris MRT Station on Feb 7, 2020.
A commuter wearing a mask at Pasir Ris MRT Station on Feb 7, 2020.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Many of us have noted over the years that Singapore is not kept clean by the conscious effort of civic-minded citizens and residents, but by a huge army of cleaners employed to do so.

I am not optimistic that fellow Singaporeans, who are still spitting wherever they feel like and not covering their mouth or nose when they cough or sneeze, will be easily persuaded to do the right thing just because the Covid-19 pandemic is upon us.

The authorities may have to implement punitive measures in the interest of public health.

Just the other day, as I was waiting for my lunch in a cafe, I had to tell a young man to cover his mouth when he coughed.

The young man had repeatedly coughed in my direction whenever he turned away from his lunch companion to cough.

While many people are wearing masks to protect themselves, I am flabbergasted at the volume of used mask litter all around.

Why pollute the environment with your potentially contaminated masks and still hope to stay safe behind a mask?

I quite often see people walk out of the toilet without washing their hands. Is there a way to persuade such people to change this unhygienic habit? Besides laws and law enforcement, everyone has a duty to speak up and persuade or remind others to do the right thing.

I feel people are less fearful of Covid-19 as compared to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), and hence are less motivated to change their behaviour.

It's still clear in my mind how public toilets were so sparkling clean during Sars and how people were behaving a lot more cautiously although there were much fewer people going around wearing masks as compared to now.

I urge everyone in the community to please work together to improve personal hygiene and overall cleanliness for us to get through this pandemic and be well prepared for the next.

Pauline Chung Pui Lan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 17, 2020, with the headline 'Duty of everyone to speak up against bad hygiene habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe