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New survey shows more Singaporeans clearing up after themselves at hawker centers, but public still not happy with level of cleanliness

Only 71.4 percent of the respondents expressed satisfaction with the hygiene of these venues, which ranked the lowest for cleanliness among the public spaces included in the survey




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Singapore— A new survey shows a high number of Singaporeans are clearing away their food utensils at hawker centres. The percentage of people cleaning up after themselves is at 48.7 percent, up from 35 percent in a survey carried out in 2017.

These results are according to the 2018 Public Cleanliness Satisfaction Survey’s findings, which were released on Wednesday, May 15. Furthermore, the number of people who never clear their used utensils, which was at 16.3 percent in 2017, is now down to 6.6 percent.

The survey included 2,005 Singaporeans and permanent residents, from the ages of 21 years old and older, from August to December 2018.

Moreover, 88 percent of the respondents said that they see others clearing up after themselves with regards to the utensils used in hawker centres, as opposed to 80 percent in 2017.

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Fewer respondents this year also saw leftover food, used napkins, disposable items, cigarette butts, and dirt/stains/graffiti in comparison with the results from 2017.

Despite having more people clearing after themselves at hawker centres, only 71.4 percent of the respondents expressed satisfaction with the cleanliness of these venues, which ranked the lowest for cleanliness among the public spaces included in the survey. For air conditioned food venues, 87 percent of respondents expressed satisfaction.

According to the head of the survey, Professor Paulin Tay, Dean of Students and Professor of Sociology (Practice) at SMU, “The culture of clearing our food is not consistent across all food courts and hawker centres – we have to work towards making it a social norm. Depending on cleaning services is unsustainable for Singapore’s cleanliness in the long run.”

In 2018, the National Environment Agency (NEA) started an initiative that required people to put down a deposit for their food trays, which they would get back when the trays were returned, as part of an effort to encourage cleanliness in hawker centres.

The Straits Times reports Edward D’Silva, the chairman of the Public Hygiene Council as saying, “Over the years, we have taken things for granted with our army of cleaners cleaning up after us.”

However, some netizens who commented on the survey results believe that hiring more cleaners is the answer to the cleanliness problem in hawker centres.

Adrian Ng wrote,  “The turnover of customers is very fast during peak hours, however, we don’t have enough fast and efficient cleaners to clear up.

Even if most customers clear up the tables after they dine, the tables are not wiped. The number of tray return stations is also limited.

I believe we need more cleaners during peak hours.”

Another netizen said that the problem is with the mindset of Singaporeans. “It’s just this Singapore mindsets. I paid for everything… Is there a need for me to clear as well? So they asked themselves. And they might as well think if I m clearing my plates I might as well stay home and do my own dishes. Good thinking… Easier said than done. Right!”

Others disagreed that more cleaners are needed. Netizen Edmund Tan wrote,  Hiring more ppl to clean the tables won’t solve the problem. Educate the ppl to clear their own plate and eat graciously. Some ppl after they eat, the table looks like they had just got a fight with their foods.

For netizen Ivan Yong it’s a very simple matter. “I just don’t get it why we all cannot get it. Clearing your own tray only serve one purpose so others can have a cleared table to have their meal… If I need your table, it is me that clear the table, wipe the table with my tissue because the cleaners are somewhere busy clearing other tables Nothing to do with cleaner losing their job and what have you.”

Many expressed that they are bothered seeing elderly people working as cleaners in these establishments.

Jackson Tan wrote, “Singapore hires old people as cleaners, how to be fast ?”

A foreigner named Khine Win chimed in as well. “I m a foreigner but I always cleaned my table and returned my trays since I moved to Singapore in 2007. I feel so bad when I saw elderly people cleaning tables. It all depends on individual’s attitude and mindset.”


Read related: Customers at 25 hawker centres in Singapore will soon be charged a fee if they don’t return their food trays

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