We thank Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan for his feedback ("Find out causes of littering, then get tough"; last Wednesday) and agree with him on the need to have a good understanding of the causes of littering and to take tough action against offenders.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) takes a strict line against all littering offenders, regardless of nationality.
NEA issued about 19,000 tickets for littering last year, which is almost double that in 2013.
Thirty-one per cent of these tickets were issued to non-residents.
Last year, there were also 688 instances of Corrective Work Orders (CWOs) imposed by the courts, more than double the total CWO figure of 261 in 2013.
To enhance deterrence, NEA has also imposed stiffer penalties on recalcitrant offenders.
The Environmental Public Health Act has been amended to deter those who continue to act irresponsibly.
Under the revised Act, the maximum court fines for littering offenders have been doubled since April 1 last year, to $2,000 for a first conviction, $4,000 for a second conviction and $10,000 for the third and subsequent convictions.
The courts may also impose CWOs, requiring offenders to clean public areas for up to 12 hours.
While enforcement is important, to tackle the littering problem effectively, a new social norm is needed where society frowns upon littering as a socially unacceptable act, and where members of the public proactively remind litterbugs to dispose of their litter properly.
Towards this end, NEA will continue to work with stakeholders to establish and foster in our community the right values of keeping our environment clean, and to encourage a ground-up movement that translates these values into action.
For our non-resident population, NEA conducts regular road shows at foreign workers' dormitories to raise greater awareness of social norms, such as that of not littering.
We also engage foreign workers through educational materials in their native languages and reinforce the litter-free messages through briefings conducted by their supervisors.
All of us in Singapore want to live in a clean city, and not just a cleaned city.
Each of us as an individual and a member of the community has an important role to play to ensure that.
Director, Environmental Public Health Operations
National Environment Agency
This article was first published on February 9, 2015.
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