Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cleanliness is next to godliness

MM Online - Impromptu cleanup by Japanese reporters covering Kim killing stuns local journo:

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — A local journalist expressed both admiration and embarrassment after witnessing Japanese counterparts tidying up outside Hospital Kuala Lumpur where media outlets had camped out to cover the killing of Kim Jong-nam.

Amirul Saji, a reporter with national news agency Bernama, said he witnessed the Japanese reporters picking up rubbish after 2am on February 15, when other journalists had dispersed when it became apparent that there were no more updates on the case.

“As I was packing up, I noticed only the Japanese group appeared to still be staying on… they seemed to be searching for something while holding plastic bags… I thought they were looking for a lost colleague, but it turned out they were picking up rubbish from where the media gathered,” he wrote on Facebook.

“I was so embarrassed. Outsiders helping to pick up rubbish… and what stunned me even more was that they then took the waste along with them when they left in their taxis. I have no idea where they brought it to. Their discipline is very incredible!”

Amirul stressed that he was not fawning over foreigners with his post, but simply saluting their culture and discipline while in another country.

He also clarified that he was not saying that local media had littered the area, and simply highlighting an attitude that should be emulated.

“Maybe we Malaysians can follow their practice, make it an example. Who knows, we might surpass the Japanese in terms of cleanliness.”

The Japanese people (not just journalists) are renowned for their cleanliness, but such habits did not start yesterday, last year or a decade ago. It's a lifetime practice culminating into a national habit.

The Taiwanese have been teaching their schoolkids the same good habits too. And unusually in China, I have, while touring, seen road sweepers by the dozens keeping roads in remote places very clean.

One of my mateys (Malaysian living in Australia, like me, wakakaka) informed me that when he walked around any city or town in Japan, the cleanliness was so remarkably admirable. And he felt a deep sense of security and safety moving among the very friendly and very polite & courteous Japanese society.

He also noticed that there was no dustbin around in town for him to discard his ice cream wrapping, so like every Japanese, he had to take that wrapping (crushed into a teeny weeny ball) back to his hotel room to place same in the wastebasket.

I wonder whether the absence of dustbin in public places was to force the citizens into taking their daily garbage home or to enhance the pristine beauty (and odour) of their public domains.

And it's not just littering in public that the Japanese abhor but clean toilets are another items they fastidiously manage. And of course habits begin young and at home and at schools. I am proud to say I clean my toilets religiously too, wakakaka.

In this regard (toilets), our lil' neighbour does have a renowned reputation for very clean and innovative toilets, where now Singapore serves as adviser to India on developing and managing public toilets - perhaps a Himalayan task for the lil' red dot, given the sheer super size of Bhārat Mātā.

But again, I remind everyone that the 'toilet training' of Singaporeans did not happen yesterday, last year or a decade ago. It started sometime in the late 60's, 50 years ago, and likewise with its anti-litter fanaticism.

In the 1960s, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew introduced strict anti-litter laws, which are still in force today.

Anyone convicted of dropping litter can be fined up to S$1,000 for the first conviction. Repeat convictions cost up to $5,000, and may lead to a community service orders or anti-littering lectures (only given in Chinese), to curb repeat offenders. In the case of a third offence, law-breakers may be made to wear a sign reading “I am a litter lout”.

Singapore also fines people for putting spent chewing gum anywhere other than a bin ($100), for urinating in lifts ($500), and for failing to flush a public lavatory ($100).

Spot checks are regularly made by officers in public toilet cubicles – there is no point having a law if it’s not enforced.

And many were the amusing stories I heard at that time of non civic-minded Singaporeans forgetting to flush in a public toilet, and being startled by sirens placed in the public toilets (triggered off by excessive ammonia, wakakaka) wailing off like banshees to the offender's embarrassment and inevitable punishment.

But do not allow time per se to intimidate us. If we all collectively start today, before we can whisper 'Banzai' or 'KTM land', it'll suddenly be 50 years later when Helen and I with our individual dentures, wakakaka, will then be quietly ensconced in our small rooms at the Little Sisters of the Poor in Batu Lanchang, perhaps visited by former PM Tun Dr Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, wakakaka again, ...

... and that's when we'll enjoy being members of a proud clean healthy Malaysian society, blessedly endowed with super-clean public toilets, roads, parks, cities and and also a safe, secure and friendly neighbourhood, and hopefully, with no more political bullshit, wakakaka for a 3rd time. 


  1. "50 years later..Tun Dr Dyana Sofya..blessedly endowed with super-clean public toilets...."

    A very wise political mission indeed, but hopelessly with more DAP political bullshit. Wakakaka..

    KT and Helen with dentures? Wakakaka again..

    1. together we will grow old disgracefully, wakakaka

  2. Even back in the 1980's; when I had the pleasure to stay at a friends house in Japan; I was taken to a village festival. It was a large one and what still sticks in my mind is that; after the festival (around 3.00 pm) everybody stayed back and cleaned up the place so clean that one would not believe that it was a festival ground just an hour back. We reaching that stage is still only a dream.

  3. we look east for many years, still not clean at all, thats y now we look middle east, the cleanest in the world, perhaps hadi is right.

  4. Unlike the Look East proponents...wakakaka...I am no fawning admirer of Japan.
    What I can say is Japan has a strong, homogenous culture with very strong social cohesion.
    The result has its good side, as well as very dark side.
    Yes, they have strong civic consciousness such as keeping common social facilities clean and in good order. Similarly with the famous Japanese work ethic.

    The dark side of Japan is the contempt for "others", Japan's actions in WWII being an extreme manifestation.
    That Japan today still has one of the toughest regulations on admitting any foreigner as a Permanent Resident or Citizen (almost impossible for a non-ethnic Japanese). That is a manifestation of its suspicion of "others".

    Japan today has the world's fastest aging population. Its working-age population is fast shrinking, a major factor in the stagnation of the Japanese economy.

    Japan could easily solve it by admitting , in a controlled manner, not Malaysia-style, foreign immigrants, but there is no way the Japanese will accept this.