Friday, August 5, 2016

Safety and Hygiene: Let them get much worse first

Stories on safety lapses often read like hygiene lapses and vice versa. It is a culture problem. If we can keep public toilet clean then most of our hygiene problems in preparing food would also disappear. This continuous wagering that customers will not end up with food poisoning is the same risky attitude our businesses bring to work environments. It is like running across the road many times successfully but unsafely. Now if you do that enough times, one day you will get run over by a car or perhaps something bigger and surer of killing you. Look at the Subcontinent, China, Taiwan and Sout Korea, they have the same work and food safety problems as well.

When I was a kid I was always amazed and impressed with the level of cleanliness at all our McDonalds outlets. It is very different today, and there are too many infractions to enumerate. Just this afternoon we were at their new and spanking restaurant at the East Coast Park, the chairs were sticky and we had to clean it ourselves. As we tucked in our meal I saw staff half heartedly cleaning tables, which against the lighting I could see the table tops were not completely wiped. Their staff used to take pride in their work but not any more.

NEA, AVA, MOM whatever enforcement against safety and hygiene lapses will continue to be ineffective if habits do not change. Then we will just have to let get worse to the point of crossing the red line: alarming rise in food poisoning cases or worse before we act. Dengue has crossed that red line and demanded huge resources to respond successfully. On safety and hygiene it looks like the government and people are waiting for more suffering and deaths before acting. I think not doing much is the right thing if given time the situation right itself but even if you have only a fraction of a brain you know this is not going to happen.


  1. We, as a people, have not changed. In anything, as 2nd/3rd generation Singaporeans, we're better educated than our forefathers.
    Yet during the 70's / 80's, we manage to overcome such "cultural un-couthness" (eg : spitting, littering). Why? The answer is - leadership. LKY & his team were detailed oriented & strong leaders. Through campaigns, fines, etc, they managed to shape Singapore into the kind of spick & span society we needed to be.
    Today's situation reflects today's poorer leadership. Leaders who're too busy taking we-fies or self-ies because it makes them feel popular, to pay attention to such details. Leaders who prefer to ensure more cleaning staff are hired. Leaders who lead primarily by reacting when a big news such as lift breakdown or mouse problem hit the social media, because it embarasses them. Not because of fostering a spirit of exellence.

    1. Sadly, the only proactivity I see is when they want to protect their positions. Other than that this leadership seems ineffectual but congratulating themselves and praising themselves (honest, incorruptible, efficient etc, but not mentioning their crony ranking and Gini coefficient).