Monday, November 07, 2011

Why discuss when you already have something in mind, CNA?

Yesterday night (6 Nov 2011), I watched "Talking Point" on Channel News Asia (CNA). The topic of discussion for the show was the lack of cleanliness in Singapore's public toilets, particularly those found in coffeeshops and hawker centres. Perhaps I was thinking too much but it seemed to me that although the show was supposed to be a discussion, Melissa Hyak, the host of the show, appeared to already have a conclusion on why coffeeshop and hawker centre toilets are less clean - that it was a lack of civic consciousness by toilet users. As such, she seemed quite eager to steer the show/discussion towards this conclusion while quickly dismissing the other plausible explanations her guests on the show raised; these other plausible explanations include: inadequate enforcement by the authorities, indifferent toilet operators, toilet cleaners who are insufficiently trained and improperly designed toilets.

Perhaps it is indeed true that a lack of civic consciousness by toilet users has contributed to dirty public toilets. However, it is rarely the case that phenomena are monocausal; more often that not, it is a combination of different factors that result in a particular situation. Of course, it may be the case that a lack of civic consciousness is the main cause of dirty public toilets. But I doubt that is a conclusion a 30 minutes (inclusive of the commercials) discussion show on TV can provide or prove; anyway, as I said, it appears that such a conclusion was one that Ms. Hyak already have even before the show started.

The issue here that I am trying to point out is not whether dirty toilets are caused by a lack of civic consciousness per se but rather that it is rather disingenuous for Ms. Hyak, or the production team behind "Talking Point", to have a discussion just to steer it towards a pre-determined conclusion. If the "Talking Point" production team sincerely believe that it is the lack of civic consciousness by toilet users which has caused public toilets to be dirty, they should spell this out outright, along with the reasons why they think this way, instead of "pretending" that this was a conclusion reached after a discussion with the guests invited onto the show, as though the guests also believed in this conclusion (rather disrespectful of the guests, in my opinion).

To end off, the conspiracy theorist in me cannot help but wonder why "Talking Point"'s production team chose to push the lack of civic consciousness as the cause of dirty public toilets. Was it perhaps to shift the responsibility/blame from other parties involved onto the general public? Interestingly enough, towards the end of the show, Ms. Hyak cited this statement made recently by Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan (Minister for the Environment and Water Resources): "I need to make it so easy for people to apply peer pressure and for people to invoke enforcement actions...ultimately, we have 3.2 million NEA officers, almost" to support the stance that dirty public toilets are caused by a lack of civic consciousness. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The word "singaporeans" kept hanging in their mouth too as if foreigners don't use the toilet facilities in Singapore. It is always easy to blame local in a govt-controlled media so that PAP continue to take credit only for the "good stuff".

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