Littering punishment under review

Littering punishment under review
Members of the public weigh their recycling material on a scale at one of the carnivals booths as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially launches the Clean and Green Campaign 2014 on Oct 26, 2013.

SINGAPORE - Litterbugs could soon face tougher penalties, with a review of anti-littering laws under way as part of Singapore's continued push for clean public spaces.

Separately, the national green plan is being updated to include the building of environmentally friendly hawker centres and cutting of carbon emissions, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong disclosed yesterday.

These initiatives are part of the review of the 2009 Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, which outlines strategies to achieve economic growth and a good living environment.

Speaking at the launch of the annual Clean and Green Campaign - into its 45th year - Mr Lee said Singaporeans have to take pride in their surroundings.

While most help to keep the environment clean, a minority still litter, leave tables at hawker centres dirty, and even abuse enforcement officers.

"We must not condone such bad behaviour, or let it spread," he said. "The Government has tightened enforcement, and we will review our penalties to punish littering, to stop littering."

The National Environment Agency (NEA) told The Sunday Times that it is considering higher fines. Currently, litterbugs face a composition fine of up to $300. Recalcitrants hauled to court can be fined up to $1,000 for the first conviction and up to $5,000 for repeat convictions. They can also be ordered to pick up litter in public for up to 12 hours.

In May, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in Parliament that penalties for high-rise littering will probably need to be reviewed and the fines imposed "significantly raised".

On Saturday, Mr Lee said the NEA is also piloting a Community Volunteers programme, where some 100 citizens have the powers to act against litterbugs. The best way to keep the country clean is not through fines and regulations though, but to exert social pressure on those who do not respect the environment, he added.

Singaporeans could, for instance, tell those who litter to pick up after themselves.

"We must also keep Singapore clean because it reflects our values - to be house-proud, considerate, environmentally conscious," Mr Lee said at the event, at an open field next to the Nex shopping mall.

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