How noble is making ‘Toilet of the Year’ award a BMW initiative to spruce up M’sian public facilities?

IT IS an unwanted tag but one that Malaysians have had to live with for the longest time – of having the filthiest public toilets regionally. As unofficial as that label may be, one will find very few Malaysians who will contest it.

Needless to say, having downright dirty public washrooms reflect terribly on a country and its citizens. With 2025 designated as ‘Visit Malaysia Year’, Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming has launched the “BMW” initiative which is to turn public toilets into bersih, menawan and wangi (clean, enticing and refreshing) environments.

Apart from changing public perception on cleanliness of public toilets, Nga said the campaign is also aimed at boosting the toilet equipment industry.

Speaking after officiating the ‘Toilet of the Year’ awards night on Oct 30, the Teluk Intan MP shared that the global market value of the toilet equipment industry is RM80 bil and expected to grow by 7.6% annually.

“My vision is not only to ensure that the country’s public toilets are world-class but this initiative is also aimed at developing the toilet equipment industry. Just like South Korea has Coway and Japan has Toto, we hope that Malaysia will one day produce world-class brands in this industry,” he enthused.

Nga Kor Ming (middle) officiating the inaugural Toilet of the Year Award 2023

“This industry is rapidly growing due to the global urbanisation trend which introduces ‘smart home’ concepts that include ‘smart toilets’ as well as increased awareness of toilet hygiene.”

This move is certainly to be applauded. Any effort to boost economic growth is always welcome news. However, Nga may be facing an uphill challenge with doing away with the perception of Malaysia having filthy washrooms given that it is a problem that has persisted for decades.

He had announced during the awards ceremony that more categories will be added to encourage more participation from the private sector as well as public institutions such as schools. Prize money will also be increased.

Perhaps the Minister should include an education programme so that the public stop abusing these facilities making them such unwelcome experiences.

Also, he might want to consider including a ‘Worst Public Toilets’ award for the public sector to ensure companies maintain clean and hygienic washrooms across the board – not just at the selected places that are being nominated for the ‘Best Toilet’ award.

Over to you, Nga, and best of luck. – Nov 1, 2023

Main pic credit: Citizens Journal

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE