Despite a coordinated effort by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Public Hygiene Council (PHC) to encourage diners to clear their trays after eating out at hawker centres, the results leave much to be desired.
Enter one netizen, Soh You You, who feels that it’s the “cleaners’ problem” if the trays are not cleared in hawker centres.
Satirical page SMRT Feedback had on Wednesday (Sep 19) posted a meme, presumably to castigate Singaporeans who do not return their trays.
Soh responded, “Why is it uncivilised to leave your plates and utensils after eating out?”
“Do you return the plates and utensils yourself after eating at a restaurant? You dont. Someone will clear. Thats the same in hawker centres. If the stuffs arent clear, then its (sic) the cleaners’ problem.. arent it?”
His main gripe was with the rising food costs which he believes includes the management fee for hiring cleaners, and since he’s already ‘paid’ for his food, the responsibility of clearing the trays falls on the cleaners.
His comment was rebuked by a John Smith:
To which Soh rebutted:
And was shut down again by John:
Other netizens chipped in:
And then things denigrated from here when Soh replied with a subtly racist comment:
Soh is not alone in rejecting the initiative of clearing their own trays. There’s even a Facebook group called Say No to Tray Return Singapore.
The main argument supporting the right not to return the trays can be summarised in one sentence:
“If we clear the plates, then the cleaners will be out of jobs. Since they have nothing to clean in the first, so why hire?”
On March 6 this year, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said in Parliament that encouraging the return of trays at hawker centres will not deprive cleaners of their jobs,
“Cleaning companies cannot hire enough cleaners and existing cleaners have difficulties coping with clearing crockery and cleaning the tables, particularly during peak hours,” Dr Khor continued.
“By returning our own trays, we allow cleaners to focus on cleaning tables, improving productivity and the quality of their jobs.”
In the midst of the back and forth, there is one rational voice:
While clearing your trays after your meal may not be mandatory, it’s the morally right thing to do.