New People's Association comic book to promote good social habits

The guide encourages people to celebrate cultural diversity by refraining from mixing halal utensils with non-halal ones, among other things. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
The comic guide illustrates 30 Desirable Social Norms, categorised into eight different themes. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Many people know it is neighbourly to wring out the water from their laundry before hanging it out to dry.

It is also polite to keep at a distance from a person using the ATM.

But these social norms, unfortuately, are not practised by all and sundry.

The People's Association hopes to publicise and promote such good social habits with a comic book it created. This guide to building an inclusive and caring society will be launched on Saturday (Sept 23).

The norms in it are in line with the "eight desirable values" Coordinating Minister for Infrastructure and Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan had highlighted last year in a community event in his constituency.

The eight values are: acceptance, active citizenry, compassion, integrity, neighbourliness, openness, respect and tolerance.

The light-hearted approach uses illustrations and humorous situations to show many commonplace faux pas that often stem from lack of knowledge.

For example, the book encourages people to refrain from mixing utensils used for halal food with those for non-halal cuisine, among other things.

Other words of advice are more specific to a Singapore setting, like hawker centres.

People are encouraged to share their table with other diners while they eat, and return their trays and used utensils to cleaning stations after the meal.

Giving grassroots volunteers and reporters a preview of the guide on Thursday (Sept 21), Associate Professor Fatimah Lateef said many of the habits are common sense "which any civic-minded person would do".

"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 event was attended by about 60 people, including representatives from 20 immigrant associations.

PA integration council member Patrick Chew, said he hopes his habit and his family's too of returning their trays after eating at a hawker centre, will rub off on other people.

Mr Chew, who heads the Jalan Kayu grassroots committee which helps immigrants adapt to Singapore, also said that sometimes newcomers may not see why people queue to enter buses and trains.

"But when they see the benefits of being orderly, they too start to queue," he added.

Dr Fatimah said the guide is "not just for foreigners, it's for everybody who lives in Singapore - Singaporeans too".

The comic strips may show up at MRT stations and on bus ads and town council posters in public housing estates by early next year, she added.

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