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This is why we can’t have nice things.

A recent article in CNA on public water coolers found that even though water dispensers are installed at all hawker centres, as well as parks and bus interchanges for people to get free drinking water, not many use it.

Some didn’t know they existed and those who knew, said they don’t use it because they have seen people spit into them or wash their hands there. It’s not so much that they wouldn’t drink water from the tap, but that they were concerned over hygiene issues from improper usage.

I admit that I don’t use the water cooler at the hawker centre near my home in Toa Payoh because it looks rather grimy and worse for wear.

A browse through r/Singapore on online forum Reddit found that I wasn’t alone in this sentiment. “Spitting, washing their face and putting their entire mouth on the dispenser” was one succinct summary of why many didn’t use public water coolers.

My favourite response was one that said: “Once u see a lao ah pek go to the water cooler to “KHHHHHUUUUHHH PUIT” and blow his nose “HNNNNNG”, you’ll never drink from one ever again.”

Funny and gross all at the same time.

Funny and gross all at the same time.
Image Source: BigStockphoto/ jacquesdurocher

It brought me back to a report a couple of weeks ago of two women who washed their hair at Sembawang Hot Spring. Talk about inappropriate use of the facilities!

There are sensor-based water dispensers that can make it such that there is no need for physical contact to get water, but if we don’t start with having common courtesy for other users of a public good, no amount of tech gadgetry is going to fix anything.

And that’s a shame, because with costs of living going up, having free drinking water available for our meals or when we are exercising is a great thing. And it’s healthier too!

Do we need a clean drinking water cooler campaign in SG now?

Putting a foot in it

Recycling shoes
Old shoe collection point at Bishan Stadium. Image source: The Pride

From inconsiderate people to something a little more serious, Reuters recently published a riveting expose on the ActiveSG shoe recycling project.

Remember those bins at ActiveSG sport centres, community clubs, parks and even Decathlon outlets where we would donate our old sneakers? I remember putting in several pairs myself.

Imagine my shock when I found out that my old kicks weren’t being recycled as filling for playgrounds and running tracks but being exported to be sold in other countries instead.

Reuters put trackers into 11 pairs of donated footwear and none of them made it to their intended destination. Instead, these shoes were tracked to bazaars in Jakarta and Batam and some locations too remote for the news agency to hunt down!

In response, Sport Singapore said in a statement: “The project partners sincerely apologise to the public for this lapse. We thank Reuters for flagging this matter to us so that we could take immediate steps to remedy the situation. We have learnt from this incident and hope that the public will continue to support this important and meaningful programme.”

It added that investigations showed a compromise in the supply chain and that the sub-contractor in question – second-hand goods exporter Yok Impex – has not had its service contract renewed.

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No doubt, many people might not care what happens to items that they have already given away, but nevertheless, this is a serious breach of public trust.

It’s like finding out that instead of giving it away food that you donated, someone was selling it to others and pocketing the proceeds. They are in essence profiting from your charity and worse, probably taking money from others who may need it more!

Inclusiveness for service animals

On a more positive note, assistance dogs are now allowed at all restaurants in the Prive Group.

The Privé Group is the first restaurant chain in Singapore that has pledged to be an Assistance Dog-Friendly Business, said Cassandra Chiu, executive director of K9Assistance.

K9Assistance is a registered charity that promotes the use of assistance dogs for persons with disabilities.

You can donate to K9Assistance here or sign up for its K9Assistance EmPawer Walk on April 3.

More cafes with a difference

More cafes with a difference
The menu (left) and the staff at Kunyah Cafe food kiosk. Image source: Solomon Lim

If you’re ever around SMU, drop by Kunyah Café food kiosk for a quick bite.

Aside from its affordable sandwiches and rice bowls perfect for a lunch in the heart of town, it offers another unique selling point: Most of the workers at the kiosk have special needs.

For example, its head chef, Alex Seow, only has 30 per cent of his vision and another chef, Oh Siew May, is born with cerebral palsy.

But tucking into the Singapore-style sandos on offer (we recommend the crispy chicken rendang), you wouldn’t notice any difference in quality, because as owner Aaron Yeoh says, he would rather have people pay attention to the food first, and the special needs of his team second.

He tells The Pride: “We aim to serve happiness in every chew of our food while rebuilding lives of person with disabilities.”

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Another cafe with an inspirational slant is the uniquely named “独一52” cafe at Marine Parade.

A play on its address – Blk 52 Marine Parade – and a Chinese phrase that translates into “like no other”, the cafe has another selling point: It’s a hangout place for seniors, complete with a 73-year-old barista who serves up a mean cuppa.

The cafe is part of Montfort Care Singapore’s GoodLife! Makan, a community kitchen that is part of its eldercare facility.

This is certainly a good sign for active aging!

A kind gesture on torrential Tuesday

A kind gesture on torrential Tuesday
Image Source: Complaint Singapore

Ending on a wholesome note in light of the recent wet and cold weather.

KJ Kyle posted in Facebook group Complaint Singapore that while waiting for his ride, he saw a foreign worker do a kind deed for an elderly woman in his block during the neverending downpour on Tuesday (Feb 28).

He posted: “The worker in the picture was having his lunch break at the void deck when he saw the elderly lady standing at the edge of the void deck. He then asked the elderly lady if she wanted to get to the other block before taking his umbrella and walking the elderly lady over to the next block.

It’s a small gesture but this little interaction between a migrant worker and an elderly auntie is just the kind of thing that would brighten your day, no matter how gloomy the weather!

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