Mr Alan Low Yu Hao was bothered by the sight of diners at hawker centres leaving their crockery behind after a meal (One simple act to change society, March 14). He proffered reasons for clearing our own plates: hygiene, consideration for the next diner and empathy for cleaners.
Local schools and military camps mandate the return of crockery and utensils. At a school where my niece was once a teacher, a boy refused to comply. When his father arrived, he had to plead with his son to do so before the boy acquiesced.
When I was growing up, my parents felt that children should focus on studies and hence did not get me to do chores. Many local families do this today, even when they do not employ a maid, resulting in children who are not used to picking up after themselves, considering chores "dirty and demeaning". In Japan, the ethic starts at a young age. People clean schools and other venues with pride after use.
I know of a major karate school here with local instructors that honours this etiquette after each class. I wonder if its students sustain this ethic while at hawker centres, or succumb to apathy?
We should learn to respect all work so as to avoid a valuation of "worthy versus unworthy" occupations. When low-wage jobs such as table cleaning are deemed fit for only foreign labour and the elderly, one might consider the act of returning his crockery after a meal "humiliating".
Anthony Lee Mui Yu