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Bring back manual flushing systems

In the interest of conserving water, it is surely time to consider a return to manually operated lavatory flush systems.

More than two decades ago, I recall sitting next to an expatriate water engineer at a dinner, who was in Singapore to advise some company on the installation of auto-flush systems.

He was cynical about maintenance - most organisations, he said, were incapable of the high degree of monitoring required to ensure correct calibration and that water waste was inevitable.

At a recent visit to a washroom in a shopping mall, I received an unsolicited - and welcome - bidet treatment.

As I was leaving, the auto flush operated twice.

A total of three releases of water when one was sufficient.

The visiting engineer was emphatic that lack of confidence in one's population was the only logical reason for auto-flush installations.

And at that stage in our history, we did indeed lack that confidence.

But much has changed since then and Singaporeans have advanced in many directions, including in having good civic sense.

Surely we are civilised enough to return to a manual system.

For those squeamish about touching the lever, a couple of slivers of toilet paper can protect them.


Encourage use of bikes, PMDs 

I commend the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for making a quick decision to shelve a government-run bicycle-sharing scheme ("LTA shelves govt-run bicycle-sharing plans", The Straits Times, March 25).

But I hope the reason for doing so is not that there are three private firms already looking to offer thousands of bikes over the next two years.

But rather, the LTA has realised that bicycle-sharing, whether docked or otherwise, will become a headache for the authorities and a nuisance to the public ("Bike-sharing: Users share perks, gripes", The Sunday Times, March 26).

We should look into making it feasible for people to use bicycles or personal mobility devices (PMDs) to go to work or school on a regular basis, rather than on an ad hoc basis, as bicycle-sharing schemes would seem to promote.

Companies should, as part of their corporate social responsibility or as part of employee benefits, buy bicycles or PMDs for their staff to use in their daily commute.

We can start encouraging upper primary pupils and secondary school students, especially those in Housing Board towns, to use bikes or PMDs to get to school.

The Government and commercial enterprises could be roped in to sponsor or subsidise the cost of these for the pupils.


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