1/3 of world population is still suffering from bad sanitation. "World Toilet Organization (WTO)" has push to improve sanitation by building and updating toilets. Through their use of humor, the importance of clean and safe toilets is recognized worldwide.
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Life is short, and time is money. I like to spend rest of my life usefully and contribute to society
Toilet is very important to our life, but people are shy to talk about it. I want to make good toilet culture for everyone both rich or poor. Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong once said, "We should measure our social graciousness against the cleanliness of our public toilets", and I realized that this is something I need to do. I decided to retire from business world. I sold my businesses, gave some away, close some and kept only one company to keep an income stream so that I can work for free for social work full-time.
I started Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS) in 1998, and started talking about toilet and sanitation issues through out media. I created a humor to solve toilet problems. This generated massive media coverages on toilets issues. We need everybody to keep the agenda alive and growing until everyone have access to clean safe and enjoyable toilets everyday everywhere anytime.
World Toilet Summit made World Toilet Organization (WTO) to the next level
When I founded World Toilet Organization (WTO), we played a pun to make our name resembles that of another famed global trade body. The global media loves our humor and they help us spread the good news which legitimized the toilet agenda.
On 19 November 2001, we hosted the first "World Toilet Summit". As a small NGO, I could not afford to pay the exhibition organizer. So I help him sell exhibition booths, and he gave us a conference for free. Once the space is ready, and I needed to have key person’s attendance.
The National Environmental Agency (NEA) Director understood that my passion for toilets is genuine, so he persuaded the Minister of Environment in Singapore to join the conference. At the end, we had not only Singaporean minister, but the government officials from 15 different countries. The summit took the global media by storm.
Since then, WTO and our activities have been recognized more and more. In 2013, all 193 countries of the UN General Assembly supported to adopt our founding day, the 19th of November, as UN World Toilet Day, and now World Toilet Day and WTO get about 3 billions outreach annually.
From taboo to attractive issue. Adding humor made this toilet issue sensational forever
In 2005, I successfully lobbied to change the building codes for more cubicles in ladies restrooms in Singapore. This building code became the world standard so women and girls don't have to wait in long queues for the toilets.
Our official status and continuous media publicity created legitimacy for politicians to win elections by promising toilets to their people. India’s Prime Minister Modi won a landslide victory with toilet was one of the campaign promises and is now building 110 millions toilets in India.
It was a long journey that I've turned "toilets" from taboo, into humor, to media darling, to political legitimacy, to public policy, and to normal lifestyle agenda. I want to make everyone laugh about toilets and when they laugh, they listen and talk and take actions. Even Hollywood star, Matt Damon mentioned World Toilet Day for promoting his organization of water comically.
There are many agendas in the world competing for media attention. My job is keeping "toilet talk" alive and interesting so that people will forget about it. I have to continue this work hard to ensure good toilets culture and healthy, happy people.
Born in 1957 and grown up in the slum of Singapore, despite very little education, Jack achieved success through founding 16 small businesses by 40. When he lost 50% of his wealth during the recession in 90s, he started to choose measuring his life by relevance not money, and decided to contribute more to the society. Soon Jack founded Restroom Association of Singapore (RAS), and eventually started World Toilet Organization (WTO) to promote sanitation of public toilets and public health policies. He succeeded to change the building codes for public toilets in Singapore in 2005, soon this code became the world standard and created the UN World Toilet Day.