Cow Beh Cow Bu

NEA’s Failed Tray Return Programme and its Even More Ridiculous Survey Results


After at least 7 years since the Tray Return Programme was launched, and how many hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even millions) spent, the NEA has reported in its latest survey that 70 percent of hawker centre patrons do not return their trays.

What’s even more embarrassing for the NEA is now only 50 percent of diners would return their trays when SG Clean Ambassadors tell them to – a drop of 20 percent.

One result of the poll shows that 92 percent of respondents expect that patrons should be required to clear their trays at hawker centres.


This was reported in the NEA’s latest poll – Vast Majority Surveyed Feel That Patrons Should Be Required To Clear Their Tables After Eating At Public Dining Places.

Even the poll results appear ridiculous, and leads anyone of average intelligence to wonder if the NEA once again screwed up with a simple survey.

Yet, the NEA states that 70 percent of hawker centre patrons don’t return their trays.

Which makes one question why the vast majority that refuses to return their trays expect that the NEA should enforce the tray-return policy.

And, why 50 percent of patrons would refuse to return their trays even when told to do so.

The NEA’s “insights” from the survey appear to be flat out of touch with public sentiments as well.

One of these “insights” states:

“While the survey result indicates that actual practice on the ground does not match up with individual espoused behaviour when it comes to tray return, it nonetheless shows that the vast majority of respondents are aware of, and agree on the right etiquette and behaviours when dining out at our public dining places.”

This neglects the basic sentiments of the public – which is more about cleanliness than the need to return their trays.

In other words, the concern is more about how hawker centre operators can improve the cleanliness of hawker centres, rather than the tunnel-vision mentality that the Tray Return Programme is the only solution.

In sum, give the NEA another 7 years and millions of dollars more and it’ll just toss the cash down the longkang again while top-level scholars continue to pat themselves on the back?

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