In an effort to highlight the work of cleaners in the Aljunied group representation constituency (GRC), the Aljunied-Hougang Town Council (AHTC) introduced sign-in sheets containing “a brief introduction” of its housing estate cleaners.
AHTC town councillor and chief of the Workers’ Party (WP) Pritam Singh on Tuesday (23 June) said that the initiative allows residents, councillors, town council staff, and contractors to “get to know our cleaners better”.
“We wanted everyone to visualise who cleaned their blocks and to put themselves in the shoes of our cleaners, with a view to nudge all to do our bit in keeping the estate clean,” he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.
“One of my highlights as an Aljunied-Hougang Town Councillor was when I was told that Mr Ong, one of our cleaners in the Paya Lebar ward of Aljunied GRC was complimented with an anonymous note in the lift car,” he noted.
Mr Singh also expressed his gratitude to all of AHTC’s “conservancy contractors and their cleaners who have come through time and time again, and most recently during the COVID-19 period, to ensure the upkeep and hygiene standards throughout Aljunied-Hougang Town”.
“My colleagues and I have walked the Aljunied-Hougang town constantly and we will be first to acknowledge there is always room for improvement. But with the spirit and commitment of fellow Singaporeans like Mr Ong and our foreign workers who do much heavy lifting, we are on the right track,” he added.
AHTC currently manages around 350 cleaners under its ward, with some of them being tasked “on standby round the clock to respond to urgent conservancy matters”.
Ong Teng Kee, the estate cleaner referenced by Mr Singh in his Facebook post, was featured in a YouTube video by AHTC titled “Our Estate Cleaner – Aljunied-Hougang Town Council”.
Mr Ong, who has been working at the estate for seven years, said that he finds cleaning individual floors challenging, as his legs — especially his knees — would hurt when cleaning the staircase.
He also disclosed how cleaners typically expect to work harder than usual during the periods of Chinese New Year spring cleaning, where residents will dispose of a lot of their things, and the lunar seventh month “where residents will pray and place offerings along the corridor”.
“They will shout “Huat ah!” and throw the paper offerings happily while we cleaners will have a hard time sweeping them up,” he quipped.
Mr Ong also said that some residents may not be aware that AHTC can assist with bulky refuse, and will bring down such material and leave them at the void deck.
In such situations, he would inform his supervisor regarding the matter and have it arranged for others to pick-up the refuse, as it is normally too heavy for him to do so himself.
Residents in the Paya Lebar estate where he works, however, are “very good”, noting that one of them had even pasted a note of appreciation specifically addressed to him on the notice board.
“I would like to thank the resident for their encouraging note,” he said.
“This job means so much to me, because as long as the residents are happy, I am happy too,” added Mr Ong.
Mr Ong currently carries out his work at Blocks 133 and 144 as well as the nearby basketball court and the surrounding carpark spaces.
Commenters praised Mr Singh and AHTC for having local cleaners as part of their cleaning and conservancy workforce, and for staying true to its commitment to providing more employment opportunities for Singaporeans.
Several commenters also took the opportunity to publicly thank cleaners in their housing estates for their hard work and friendly service.
One commenter highlighted that the sign-in sheet has helped him “get acquainted” with his estate cleaner, a “young Bangladeshi boy” who was initially “a bit shy”.
“I guess he’s gotten used to it by now,” said Huang Yvewen.
A couple of commenters stressed the significant role of cleaners in maintaining a habitable environment and encouraged people to go beyond “saluting and thanking” the cleaners.
“Let’s show practical support. Tip the cleaners at the estates and the parks,” said Cirdec Lye.
AHTC is currently one of the only two town councils that manage its contractors other than the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council, following the former’s issue with its past managing agent.