Malaysia wants to flush toilet reputation

Malaysia will try to flush its long-held image of having foul-smelling public restrooms with a National Toilet Summit to educate the public about the importance of clean commodes.

Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Robert Lau, whose ministry will hold the conference in Kuala Lumpur Aug. 24-25, said Tuesday "having clean restrooms in this country is a serious challenge that we have to tackle."

"If a toilet is a person (in Malaysia), he should protest to the Human Rights Commission because he is very unfairly treated," Lau said.

Public toilets in Malaysia have long disgusted residents and tourists with their lack of basic items such as toilet paper, soap and sometimes even toilet seats. Many fall prey to vandals.

Lau said the meeting would bring together local officials and international experts on toilet management, including the founder of the World Toilet Organization, Jack Sim.

Such eyesores scare away tourists, Lau said.

"The vision ... is to establish a clean toilet culture," he said. "The mission is to raise users' etiquette and to motivate the change in the psychological ethics and attitudes of users and owners."

Shopping malls and other commercial establishments that do not have clean toilets may not have their business licenses renewed, he said, adding the government was also considering imposing fines for vendors with dirty washrooms, reports the AP.

I.L.