Malaysia calls for “toilet revolution”

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25, 2006 (AFP) – Malaysia’s deputy premier has called for a “toilet revolution” in the country, saying dirty facilities frighten away tourists and reflect poorly on the country. Opening the nation’s first ever “toilet expo” on Thursday, deputy prime minister Najib Razak said the cleanliness and beauty of a country’s toilets were a measure of how civilised it was.

“Try to imagine dirty, disgusting toilets that make you nauseous — these will surely give us a negative image,” Najib was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency.

The influential politician said the government was willing to tighten laws to force owners of business premises to keep their washrooms clean.

“Good, clean toilets are associated with good health, good manners, good upbringing, good housekeeping and civilisation,” he said according to the Star newspaper.

“We need an effort, a national effort if we are to change the culture and attitude of the people on this important issue.” Malaysia is a relatively affluent Southeast Asian country, but the state of its toilets often leaves much to be desired, particularly when compared to its neighbours including squeaky-clean Singapore.