... and four of the worst if there's no other choice
The city's cleanest and most vile public loos were named yesterday after the first poll of its kind by toilet experts and users.
The Repulse Bay Beach public convenience won the 'Most Acclaimed Public Toilet Gold Award' in an online vote by 2,325 people organised by RTHK and the Hong Kong Toilet Association. Its cleaners were especially cited for their excellent performance.
The new Lantau Link viewing platform public toilet, described as a 'five-star' facility, was picked by a panel of judges as the best public toilet. The judges said they were impressed that it offered announcements in three languages to remind users to flush toilets and wash their hands. It also has a waiting area with comfortable seating.
'You could read books and have a cup of coffee there if you don't mind,' said association vice-chairman Lo Wing-lok at the awards ceremony at RTHK headquarters in Kowloon Tong.
Referring to the Repulse Bay winner, Dr Lo said: 'As the toilet is at such a popular tourist spot, it has a very high usage. But it's a surprise to find there's no sand on the floor at all. You can see how hardworking the cleaning staff is.'
RTHK and the association conducted the online poll between May 24 and June 1, receiving 2,325 votes. Judges visited 28 public toilets nominated by district councils for the Adjudicators' Choice Award.
They also visited 56 less desirable toilets nominated by voters online and picked four that required urgent improvement.
Association chairman Michael Siu Kin-wai shared some horror stories from their search for the best and the worst. 'Sometimes I was so scared that I jumped back because I saw something very terrible,' he said.
Market Street public toilet in Yau Ma Tei was one of the 'winners' in the horror category. Three of the eight male cubicles were damaged and awaiting repair. The 'inconsiderate behaviour of users' also contributed to the toilet's status, adjudicators said. Cleaning staff reported being threatened at night when cubicles were sometimes frequented by drug addicts.
'When we visited this toilet, we saw three men leave the cubicles consecutively without flushing,' Dr Lo said. 'I appreciate the staff a lot who flush the toilets for them.'
Central Market public toilet was another in need of urgent improvement. Despite being a high-use facility, it needed repairs and many users exhibited poor manners and bad hygiene.
'Perhaps the government thinks that it will be demolished soon,' Dr Lo said. 'But even so, it should not neglect its maintenance as long as it remains open.'
The poll also found public toilets share the typical gender differences, with female toilets tending to be cleaner and drier than male ones. 'While men ask for a dry floor in public toilets, they are actually those who make it slippery,' Dr Lo said. 'I therefore urge all men not to splash too much.'
Attending the award presentation, Permanent Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Carrie Yau Tsang Ka-lai said that despite some bad ones, the city's public loos were generally world-class.