VIVIAN BALAKRISHNAN: CLEANERS TO BE GIVEN ONE DAY OFF, RESIDENTS TO CLEAN UP OWN ESTATE

Cleaners with various town councils this year will be given a day off, with residents instead mobilised to clean up their own neighbourhoods, as part of fresh efforts to tackle the littering scourge.

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The standard of cleanliness in Singapore has fallen, with surveys showing that from 2006 to 2010, the number of litter items collected almost doubling, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament today (March 11).

He joined Members of Parliament who spoke at his Ministry’s Committee of Supply debate in calling for greater civic consciousness, as he signalled his resolve to reduce the littering menace.

Hougang MP Png Eng Huat called for public cleanliness posters, jingles and banners of decades past to be “recycled” this Jubilee year to drive home the message to the community to keep their surroundings clean.

Dr Balakrishnan said campaigns have never stopped. “I think what has changed is behaviour and perhaps our propensity to enforce in the past. But now that we have changed onto a higher enforcement posture, and with more volunteers and with everyone being prepared to exert peer pressure, I’m determined to make a difference on the ground as far as littering is concerned,” he said.

Several new ways to address the littering problem here include equipping enforcement officers with body-worn cameras to document abusive behaviour of litterbugs, providing more training to volunteers, and encouraging organisers to involve participants in cleaning up after major events.

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