Singapore’s massive transformation over the last decades is reflected in its toilets.
A display at the Chinatown Heritage Center shows a typical Chinatown commode from the 1950’s, which utilized the "bucket system."
The above dingy, primitive room seems to sum up the difficulty of early 20th century life for Chinatown citizens — living in cramped, dark, unsanitary conditions, and toiling away at difficult jobs, and haunting heroine dens when life got tough.
In contrast, the museum’s current toilet is pristine; it was cleaned minutes before this photo was taken. And just about every public toilet we saw in Singapore was spotless. For that matter, Singapore itself looks spotless.
The new bathroom is much larger. Singaporeans now seem to have more living space.
The new bathroom is modern. Singapore is a trading hub cum manufacturing center, and now the government is sponsoring projects to help it become a center of technological and creative innovation.
In short, the Singapore we experienced has reinvented and remodeled itself.
And now that the toilets are clean, the government seems obsessed with keeping them that way. It’s illegal not to flush a public toilet.