The origin of the 5 cents toilet entrance fee

From ‘Visit marred by dirty loo in People’s Park’, 3 April 2011, Your Letters, Sunday Times

(Brenda Scofield): My frequent visits to Singapore are a pleasure knowing in so many ways, especially knowing that toilets here have excellent facilities. So imagine my surprise when , in People’s Park Complex last week, I was charged to use a toilet and charged again for toilet paper!

…The facilities were quite dreadful, dirty and smelly. Obviously, no one was taking care of the place. Later that evening, I was in Ion Orchard and was delighted to find facilities like those in a five-star hotel. What on earth happened at People’s Park Complex?

…My advice? Drink little if you are heading to People’s Park, then hotfoot it out of there to somewhere reflecting Singapore’s well deserved reputation for spotless facilities.

The complainant forgot to mention that Ion toilets are also free of charge. Herein lies the contradiction; you pay more for a dirty toilet than a serviceable, five-star one. Which could mean a few things, that the People’s Park sanitary management stinks as much as their loos, that patrons of Ion Orchard are more socially responsible than those at People’s Park, or Ion’s cleaners are highly motivated, better paid individuals with an overwhelming sense of duty and pride in their work. Or it could just be that Ion’s toilets are newer than People’s Park, which  could have been in existence ever since the first disappearances of bullock carts from the streets of Chinatown, which makes such comparisons unfair since nasty, broken down toilets are a necessary side effect of People’s Park preserving its Old World charm. Perhaps what we’re really paying for, based on a common, oxymoronic observance that paid toilets are older and grimier than free ones, is the upkeep of facilities which tenants can’t afford to overhaul.

One also needs to question the effectiveness of charging for toilet use, whether the very act of having to pay an infinitesimal sum of 10 cents gives the user a sense of entitlement to use the facilities in any way they please, since they’re putting money in the pockets of people whose jobs are to clean up after them.  As for advocates of exorbitant toilet fee charging, the only reason why that would keep toilets clean is because nobody would pay to use it, and users would only bring their filthy potty habits elsewhere. It’s the typical ‘maid mentality ‘at work when people no longer value personal responsibility over one’s surroundings and begin layering the seats with excessive toilet paper until it attains the right bounce of a plush cushion, blasting their sticky snot all over the sides of basins without washing them down, or choking urinals with used Band-aids and pubic twine such that the next person using it would be afraid of flushing it and thus leave his stink behind, assuming the flush works that is. Which brought me to the question of why, and when, we decided to make people fork out money just to answer the call of nature.

It probably started from a typhoid outbreak, a disease unheard of these days, and a complaint letter from a ‘Concerned citizen’ below (So much cleaner after outbreak of typhoid, 25 Feb 1971, ST).

And here below was the response from the Department of Public Cleansing (Untitled, 22 March 1971, ST). It would be interesting to know if ‘Concerned Citizen’ is still alive 40 years after giving his ‘five cents worth’, an example of a complaint having significant impact on the state of public toilets everywhere. The charge may have risen by only 5 cents within that time span in most places, but our sense of communal hygiene, in spite of our reputation as tech-savvy, highly educated people,  is still as appalling as ever.

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Female cleaners in male toilets

From ‘ Mind the gender in toilet cleaning’, 3 Feb 2011, ST Forum online

(Seow Joo Heng): OFTEN, we see female cleaners being employed to clean all toilets, including men’s toilets; and male inspectors inspecting all, including women’s toilets.

Obviously, this arrangement causes inconvenience and embarrassment to both users and cleaners.

Let us give some respect to all, especially the female cleaners, with just a bit of common sense: all cleaning processes involving men’s toilets can be handled by men, and women’s toilets by women.

A counter argument that this will then increase manpower costs should not hold water.

Perhaps instead on complaining about getting caught shaking off the last drops of pee at the urinal by female cleaners  one should consider that these workers are picking up our shit after us and it’s unreasonable to expect that, in this line of work with a possibly askew gender distribution, males can only clean male toilets and vice versa for female cleaners. What if there were only one cleaner on shift that day because her male colleague fell sick from clearing up someone’s liquid poo-margeddon the previous night? Would you rather the toilet be left in a state of  after-party faecal desecration, shit splattered and compacted that you would need tongs to fish out formidably rock-hard stools or unflushable condoms, swirling with noxious fart vapour so repellent and persistent your 15 minute lunch will taste exactly like the undigested discards of all toilet users combined? You spend no more than 5 minutes doing your business, these folks make sure you don’t slip on urine for more than 8 toxic hours a day. Show some understanding for god’s sake.

It’s a dirty, hazardous job really, and it’s understandable if toilet cleaners are an angry, disgruntled bunch who, being exposed to all manners of excrement, spit and pubic hairs in the course of a day, wouldn’t care less about your modesty even if you’re so well endowed that you have to stand an arm’s length away from the urinal just to relieve yourself. Best pee with caution, you know, adopting the usual stance of head and hands down, not hands behind your head whistling and cooing with pleasure. After all, it’s not just female cleaners one has to watch out for barging into our toilets, it’s also fathers who bring in their girls as well, as seen in this letter ‘Modesty issues at the urinals’, 26 June 2007, Today.




No transgenders allowed

From ‘Right to ban trangenders from clubs?’ 6 May 2010, article in My Paper

Lawrence (manager of China One, who refused to allow transgender customer back into club): “You have to realise the problems (of letting transgenders in). For example, are they supposed to use the male or female toilets?”

Mr Bendini (victim): “If clubs don’t welcome us, they should put a sign on the door. It should not be on a case-by-case basis.”

Mr Bendini’s experience led to at least 500 transgender people coming together to rally against discrimination.

Hey sista soul sistas

By the same argument club managers should ban girls who dress like boys, in fear of traumatising patrons in their toilets. Looking at Ms/Mr Bendini above (what a name, Bendini), what are the chances you’ll see her/him pissing at a urinal next to other men and confusing the shit out of them? Another club, Butter factory, was reported to ban entry to an amputee in fear of crutches posing a safety hazard in 2009.  Which led one to wonder what a man with one leg is doing at a dance party. But that’s another story altogether. Funny how no action is taken (yet) against transsexual people coming together and yet the authorities clamp down on gay conferences and straight politicians. Still, try explaining sex change to the kids.  More  Ah Kua discrimination here.

Casino toilet unlucky

From “So hard to find toilet at Resorts World” posted 24 March 2010 in  Stomp website

(Stomp reader) Looking for a toilet at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) was like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Since our RWS casino is reputed to be world class, there should be toilets on every level and not just on level 2.

My ‘feng shui’ friend told me that when my luck is good and I need to use the toilet, the long journey to the toilet and the return journey will sever my chain of luck.

I believe the reason why feng shui is so popular these days is that you always have something to blame on other than yourself when your chips are down. Even if the complainant manages to book a table within 5 metres of the nearest urinal, he’ll start blaming something else for his arse luck, like getai songs, spilled water, draft directions or the colour of the croupier’s bowtie

Shouldn't the 'Greater than' sign on top be after "Lift to Casino" instead?


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