Since the onset of COVID-19 in the country, our government has shown its decisiveness in tackling the outbreak, and we as citizens and residents are reaping the benefits of their hard work.
With all these precautionary measures in place, I see the perfect time for us to embrace proper hygiene as the new normal, once and for all.
Take Singapore for example. In 2004, the city state banned chewing gum as part of its cleanliness campaign. It wasn’t easy for the populace at the time because most of them grew up with it.
But now, 16 years after the ban, it is a well-accepted fact that gum chewing is illegal in Singapore.
Old habits may die hard, but with cleanliness being the main focus to keep COVID-19 from resurfacing, the younger generation is now being educated on the importance of proper hygiene with the level of urgency that my generation and the generations before me never received.
When this group of youngsters grows up, they will pass along the message to the generation after them, which is akin to Singapore and its chewing gum ban. To the youth of Singapore, the idea of putting a candy into the mouth to chew for hours probably seems like a foreign concept.
Most important, I believe proper hygiene has a spillover effect to public cleanliness. While the authorities have always urged the public to not litter and have respect for public properties, the messages are not always heard.
Perhaps as we prepare for the new reality, we will simultaneously put to rest the decade-old problem of proper hygiene and cleanliness.