The other WTO

Toilet Humor

I imagined a joke about someone telling another person that he works at the WTO, and the other person asks, “Wow, how long have you been in Geneva?”, and the first person asks back, “What do you mean, Geneva? I work in Toa Payoh.”

People laugh at our obsession with toilets – and how as a nation, we made all our public toilets flush themselves because we couldn’t be trusted to flush them, and now we don’t have to flush them so often because water is scarce, and how we actually have a national contest to see who has the cleanest toilets.

Having cogitated on this for a bit (on the toilet no less), I have realised that it really is no laughing matter. Good sanitation means less disease, and we should be spreading the word about efficient waste management.

Lack of public action and education has led to people defacating on street corners in Dhaka because of a lack of public toilets. And you really should teach some people that not everything can be flushed.

So, don’t laugh, and be proud of the fact that Singapore hosts the World Toilet Summit (whose logo looks suspiciously like Standard Chartered’s), which was held last December. And the next time someone says s/he works at the WTO, ask him/her how things are in Toa Payoh.

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