Nepali Times
Under My Hat
A fine city


There is no reason why with a little bit of extra effort, we can't become a fine city like Singapore.

Having once had to nearly pay a double fine for trying to hide a big glob of bubble gum underneath a park bench on Orchard Road (SG$500 for chewing contraband and SG$1,000 for littering, making a total of SG$1,500 plus 10 percent GST), I have in all subsequent trips to the Pearl of the Orient forced myself to look over my shoulder before committing any such heinous crimes again in broad daylight. And, I'm proud to say, I've never been caught.

Doubtless, we can lift a leaf or two from the Singapore government's Book of Rules and Regulations for Those Desirous of Relieving Themselves While in the City State which devotes an entire chapter to the issue of keeping public toilets in the republic spic and span. As all those who have had the misfortune of being slapped a SG$100 fine for forgetting to flush the loo will know, this is a country that takes activities related to the human alimentary canal very seriously indeed. Whereas we in Turd World countries like Nepal have, shall we say, a rather lackadaisical attitude towards sanitation, and tend to pooh-pooh the whole notion of hygiene. A country where the high and mighty have always treated the rest of the citizens like manure can't be expected to pay much attention when it comes to the real stuff, can it?

If, one day, we want to become filthy rich like the Singaporeans, it is pretty clear what we have to do.

We must institute stiff fines for all major and minor misdemeanours and also turn ourselves into a penal colony. We must not underestimate the power of deterrence to instill good behaviour in citizens so that we too can attain the millennium goals of becoming a germ-free nation by 2015 AD.

But let's be realistic: do our army, navy and air force have the capacity to instill fines on every non-flushing Nepali? Sadly, the answer is an unequivocal "no". So, unlike Singapore, which penalises offenders with fines, we must use positive enforcement by rewarding those who do things right. In Nepal, instead of taking money away from those who litter, we must give money to those who don't. In this way, we can pay attention to other areas of national enterprise where prizes will work better than penalties:

. Cash prize of Rs 2,000 for the lone pedestrian who actually used the overhead walkway at Bhotahity in the last fiscal year. To be presented at a public felicitation ceremony chaired by the Mayor of Kathmandu or the MP of Kathmandu, whoever is elected first.
. The Honest Cop Award in Cash or Kind for the pre-embarkation security check personnel at Tribhuvan Intercontinental Ballistic Airport who doesn't ask you to open your wallet and contribute generously to the Free Lunch Fund for Kathmandu's Finest during the mandatory body search.
. The columnist who adheres to the highest standards of personal hygiene by not grooming his nostrils in full view of the rest of his staff during the course of writing the above column. This award carries with it a permanent residence certificate for Singapore. Terima Kasi.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)