Comic book to promote good habits

The 40-page book consists of illustrations depicting commonplace faux pas that often seem to stem from a lack of knowledge. According to Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, the comic strips may show up on MRT trains, buses and posters in housing est
The 40-page book consists of illustrations depicting commonplace faux pas that often seem to stem from a lack of knowledge. According to Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, the comic strips may show up on MRT trains, buses and posters in housing estates by early next year.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The 40-page book consists of illustrations depicting commonplace faux pas that often seem to stem from a lack of knowledge. According to Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, the comic strips may show up on MRT trains, buses and posters in housing est
The 40-page book consists of illustrations depicting commonplace faux pas that often seem to stem from a lack of knowledge. According to Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef, the comic strips may show up on MRT trains, buses and posters in housing estates by early next year.ST PHOTOS: ALPHONSUS CHERN

PA hopes the guide launching on Saturday will help build inclusive and caring society

Being neighbourly means wringing out the water from your laundry before hanging it out to dry.

Many people know that.

Being polite means keeping a distance from a person using the ATM.

Most people know that and, in some places, a yellow line ensures that.

But the People's Association (PA) believes people in Singapore can do better. So, it has created a comic book that it hopes will publicise and promote good social habits that, in turn, will help build an inclusive and a caring society.

The light-hearted approach to reach the hearts and minds of all, whether locals or foreigners, would be especially useful if it happens on a regular basis, said National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser.

He added: "I believe a comic book alone would not help very much. People may flip through once and not return to it."

  • 120

    Number of grassroots leaders, volunteers, and immigrant association members who brainstormed for two months to come up with the objectionable habits.

    20

    Number of immigrant associations also involved in preparing the book.

The illustrations and humorous situations depict commonplace faux pas that often seem to stem from a lack of knowledge.

For example, the guide book encourages people to refrain from mixing utensils used for halal food with those for non-halal cuisine at hawker centres. People are also urged to return their trays with used plates and cutlery to cleaning stations after the meal.

Yet other norms are simply part and parcel of being a decent person, such as being punctual.

Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef said many of the habits are common sense "which any civic- minded person would do", she told reporters yesterday during a sneak peek at the comic book to be launched on Saturday.

"But sometimes they're taken for granted, so it doesn't hurt to remind people about them again," added the Marine Parade GRC MP.

She is adviser to the PA Integration Council tasked to help new citizens and permanent residents settle in the community.

The 40-page book was born from two months of brainstorming by 120 grassroots volunteers and representatives of at least 20 immigrant bodies. Some were also at yesterday's event.

The comic strips may show up on MRT trains, buses and town council posters in housing estates by early next year, she added.

But Associate Professor Tan fears that, over time, "people would soon be desensitised to their message". He suggested producing humorous television skits that could be incorporated into popular local shows.

Peer pressure is another effective way of getting the message across.

"People tend to conform to social norms if they want to be seen in a positive light by those who matter to them," Prof Tan said.

PA integration council member Patrick Chew is hoping his habit of of returning his food tray at hawker centres will rub off on other people.

He added that people sometimes do not see why others queue to enter buses and trains. "But when they see the benefits of being orderly, they too start to queue."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Comic book to promote good habits'. Print Edition | Subscribe