[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, May 03, 2008

[Zero Litter Event at Harmony Park]
1. In many HDB estates, littering has gotten worse. This is troubling. I am not sure of the reasons but one could be the growing dependence on foreign maids and workers cleaning up after us. The Town Council employs some older Singaporeans as well but they cannot work as hard as young Bangladeshis.

2. Many of us would have seen parents quite unconcerned about their kids throwing litter on the ground. Children learn from adults and unless we set the right example, they will grow up with bad habits. By the time they become teenagers, many are hard to control.

3. By organising a GRC-wide campaign for zero litter, we hope that, month by month, year by year, we can get more residents to feel a sense of responsibility for the cleanliness of their neighbourhoods. It is true that the Town Council itself could also do more in some areas, but the Town Council cannot keep estates clean without the full cooperation of residents.

4. At the launch ceremony at Harmony Park this morning, I talked about the importance of living in harmony with nature. With hundreds of millions of people in the world wanting to live like Americans and Europeans, there is no way the world can support the increased consumption of resources and production of wastes (including greenhouse gases) without a change in human patterns of behaviour. Unless each and every one of us feel more responsible for the environment, great damage will be done with very negative consequences for our children and grandchildren. In the end, zero litter can only be achieved if it is internalised in our attitude.

5. This morning, we paid tribute to the cleaning staff, many of whom are foreigners, mostly from Bangladesh. They work hard and we should try to make their work not harder, but easier.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in a HDB estate and I cannot agree more that littering has gotten worse. I will like to extend the observation and provide some suggestions.

a. Social Education. How much time do we spend on educating our kids in schools about Right Social Behaviour? I have 3 school-going children and I follow what they learnt in school. Sadly, I found nothing in school that teaches our kids about "Littering will be look upon as Anti-social and will be scorned at". Instead, they learnt "Fine $1000 if caught littering". So some kids said, only if I get caught. So no worry. Another said, I am below 16-years old, the worst case scenario is that I will get Corrective Work Order (CWO). So again, need not to worry. I have been to some countries and seen Social Education in action. In Taiwan, try leaving used utensils at the bench in the public, the old man or woman will walk over and remind you to dispose it into the bins. Once, I encountered a man putting a glass bottle into the wrong recycle bin. He had a mouthful from the cleaner. At the busy Ye-Shi (Night market), when the garbage truck playing its all-familiar tune arrives, all the stallholders respond in a Pavlovian manner to bag their rubbish and carefully loading onto the truck. Anyone littering will be scorned at! I do not disagree that adults should take the lead. My son and I pick up advertisement pamphlets that were “accidentally dropped by my neighbours”, and drop them into the bins when we check our letterboxes. Couple of years back, I suggested that a Community event involving school children stationing at HDB lift lobbies in the evening (when residents return from work) to give out ribbons and offer a “Social Responsibility Note” whenever some residents litter the letterbox area. This event will help reinforce both the students and residents to the idea that Littering is an Anti-Social behaviour and mind you, everyone is watching. The children, with the lead from their school can also help adults to learn to be more socially responsible.

b. Outsource Enforcement. Have we all gone too much on relying on the Government to enforce everything? Why always ask the town councils? With so little resources, what can town councils do? Maybe we should outsource enforcement to CISCO and others to do both Carpark and Anti-Littering enforcement. I am sure there will be some improvements and costs savings as after all, the area of coverage is almost similar.

c. Social Responsibilities – Commercial entities. It is not difficult for many to establish a correlation between the increase in litter and the increased presence of convenience stalls e.g. 24-hour outlets and eating places. Just pay a visit to any of these hangouts and comb an area within a radius of 100 metres from these places, I am sure you will find evidence of discarded 7-Eleven, Mcdonald’s, KFC, Cheers! plastic bags, bottles and etc. So what can these commercial entities do to minimise these litter? Simply give out less or no bags, participate in community events and promote Anti Littering Social Behaviour. The caveat for these entities though is not to sponsor more items with disposable receptacles.

d. Resident’s Rights. Just how often do we see littering right before our eyes and no one dare say a thing to the litter bug? Almost all the time for a typical Singaporean. Perhaps one reason is that no one knows what rights we have as residents. If we can call the Police to come to visit our neighbour if he is too loud and noisy with his latest Home Theatre System, why is it that we do not seem to have right to report the litter bug? I suspect the issue is getting the evidence of the misdoing and finding a witness. For the noisy neighbour, I am sure the Police will not come if they did not receive more than one compliant from residents and also the act cannot be caught easily. So, can someone; Town Council, NPP or others advise us what rights do we have as resident to “arrest” the culprit?

The recent Cleanliness Index (CI) is a good way to measure and set a standard. But to get residents to pay more if their CI is lower is not a fair way and will not promote social responsibilities positively; just like the present “Fine”. Taken negatively, residents will treat it as their right to litter as they are paying for the service.

Monday, May 05, 2008 2:18:00 pm


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