Singapore

Wong Li Lin's new role: public servant

Former actress Wong Li Lin is new executive director of Public Hygiene Council

She cleaned up the streets of criminals as Inspector Elaine Tay in the 1990s drama Triple Nine. Now, in her new job, former actress Wong Li Lin is spearheading the drive to improve hygiene standards in Singapore.

She is the new executive director of the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), the latest incarnation for the 45-year-old, who was once a professional ballerina, a pilates instructor, the boss of a media start-up and a deputy director at a medical firm.

In the five weeks since she took up the role, Ms Wong has had to learn the ropes of her new job while dealing with curious and excited colleagues.

PHC was launched in 2011 to promote good hygiene practices and improve personal and public hygiene standards in Singapore.

Ms Wong - mother of Sage, 13, and Jonas, 11 - said yesterday that she has no academic or work experience in the area of public hygiene but does not see it as a problem.

She has many ideas for the new role.

First is streamlining and simplifying the process to organise cleanups around the island. She wants to create a one-stop online portal where organisations such as companies or societies can access and view the areas in Singapore that are available for cleanups.

She also wants to set up a shared pool of cleaning tools so that groups will not have to buy them for one-time use in their clean-up activities.

Ms Wong plans to organise public cleanups at beaches first, with the PHC receiving about 20 to 30 requests to clean them every month.

Her second goal is to strengthen the use of social "nudges" - an idea from behavioural economics - to understand people's habits and then subconsciously encourage them to keep the surroundings clean.

She said: "I am looking forward to learning and growing on the job and contributing to our ability to better ourselves, so we can better our environment."

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