The current debate here is of course the littering problem. Some people are asking why after many years of successfully keeping Singapore clean, it has gotten so bad. Actually, in my opinion, the littering problem has always been there. It just got swept away (pun intended) by a task force of cleaners.
When the PM first talked about the littering problem at the recent Laneway concert at the Garden by the Bay, a lot of fingers were pointed at foreigners. But really, is it really the foreigners that are contributing to all the litters here. I sorry and sad to admit that it is likely not so. The way I see it, most of the litters here except for certain specific areas where foreigners of similar nationality hang out, most of the litters are generated by us local.
I talked about the smoking and littering problem outside my office previously. The people who hangs around there and smoke are from the 2 office buildings next to it. Some of them are my colleagues as well. And 99% of them are locals. In fact, I once saw the security guard at my building dump his breakfast bag there! Beats me why he couldn’t throw it into the bins in the building?
On my runs during the weekend, I often see litters left behind by people who had appeared to stay overnight at the park. One time there was a whole lot of Macdonalds wrappers and cups at the Punggol Waterway. Then there is the perpetual lot of rubbish at Alexandra Arch. Beside it being featured prominently in the papers, on the 2 occasions that I was there over the last 2 weekends, the litters were at the same place. Obviously somebody must have decided to have a overnight picnic there. Foreigners? I don’t think so. The domestic maids will have to go back to their owners’ place. The construction workers all have curfew and definitely have no money to drink so much. And even if they do, they are at Little India, Beach Rd, Tanjong Katong but not the neighbour parks. Rich expatriates? I don’t see people like them hanging out on a overhead bridge in the middle of the night. A good example is the void deck of HDB flats. Who hangs out there overnight talking and drinking until the wee hours? And leave everything on the table for someone to clean up thereafter? Foreigners? I think most Singaporean know the answer to that.
And it is the same scene everywhere. At the beaches, at the bus stops, in the cinemas, in the parks and even in the trails. I think the big problem we people here have is not, contrary to what the press is saying, that we have this thinking that somebody will clean up after us, but is that we are by and large selfish and inconsiderate and ill bred. The littering problem persists because us Singaporean do not care. Simply bochap about the environment. Just wait at the bus stop and observe. See the student drinking? Watch when the bus comes along, just leave it on the bench and board the bus. Same with the uncle fisherman at the beach. Catch the fish and leave the small fish, newspaper, drink bottles behind. Same with the kids who drinks at Clark Quay and Alexandra Arch. And after every movie, look at the amount of trash left on the seat and floor. At my place here, there is a resident who will leave his/her trash in the corridor! And the central rubbish bin is like another 10 steps away! Fact is we have a first class economy but a third class mindset.
To lick the littering problem, another round of campaign is not going to work. People are too well educated nowadays for this type of goosebumps inducing campaign. What we need is more enforcement, heavier fines and more prominent Corrective Work Order. The only way to nit the problem. Fine them and shame them. Sad but the only way to go.