Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Brompton bikes versus primitive cleaning equipment

The photos above depict the type of cleaning equipment used by the cleaners in my estate. Dustpans made from discarded tins and plastic containers and a broomstick made from husk. The sight of these brought me back to the era of the 70s where such were a common sight. But we no longer live in the 70s but have moved on to the 21st century.

Something tugged at me whenever I see our cleaners working with such equipment. Something was not quite right to see town council cleaners, entrusted with the mammoth task of maintaining the cleanliness of our estates on a daily basis to be given primitive equipment to work with.

Until the Brompton bike saga surfaced. As these ill-equipped cleaners work for none other but Sembawang-Nee Soon GRC which is helmed by the same minister who justified NParks’ Brompton bike premium purchase for improved productivity and durability. Compare the high-end bikes with these makeshift dustpans and broomstick used daily by my estate cleaners.

Using the same logic applied by Mr Khaw Boon Wan on his support for the Brompton bikes purchase, premium cleaning equipment which is durable and requires less maintenance has to be acquired for our town council cleaners to raise staff productivity too. Although our town council cleaners do not cover 30 – 40 km of work area daily, nevertheless, they are the very people who have a direct impact of the state of cleanliness of our estates; they are the ones who ensure the hygiene level and thus, the quality of our environment in our estates where 85% of us, the HDB dwellers, live in; they are the people who contribute directly towards Singapore’s reputation of a clean city.

Are these town council employees, of any lesser importance than the employees of NParks? To be honest, our cleaners are equally important, if not, more important. We could at least survive in a clean but treeless environment but imagine our island beautified by trees but piled up with rubbish.

Mr Khaw might reason with the fact that the cleaning equipment, made from recycled materials and cheap materials, are environmentally friendly. However, they look embarrassingly primitive and cheap in a first world country where massive funds were channelled to the building of the Supertrees by the bay for conservation and where Herman miller designer chairs were purchased for the long term welfare of the employees of a certain ministry.

My indignation caused by the episode of Brompton bike is that it espouses none other than the mindset where employees at a higher level of the hierarchy commands more worth than the ones at the bottom and thus the justification for the former to deserve premium materials that should be rightfully borne by all taxpayers.