Worrying rise in killer litter
Fri, Dec 18, 2009
my paper

By Sia Ling Xin

EVERY Housing Board block should appoint a "litter guard", who patrols the block to look out for killer litter.

Ms Caroline Ng, 26, a sales executive who lives in an HDB estate in Dover and who suggested this, said: "Knowing that someone is keeping an eye out will deter those who are tempted to throw killer litter."

She is among residents of HDB estates interviewed by my paper, who are worried by the growing problem of killer litter and think that more should be done.

Yesterday, the HDB said that it has issued about 39,200 warnings in the first eight months of this year to residents who placed objects in a dangerous manner, such as positioning flower pots on window ledges.

This was an average of 250 more warnings issued per month, compared to the same period last year.

The growth comes after an earlier dip of about 40 per cent, from 7,800 a month two years ago, to about 4,650 a month last year.

Less than a week ago, a woman threw a bottle of chilli sauce out of her 16th-floor flat in Compassvale, disrupting a wedding below her block and injuring a guest who had to be hospitalised.

The HDB said that "the slight increase in the number of warnings issued this year shows that there is a need to constantly remind and educate residents on the importance of maintaining vigilance".

It urged residents to relocate objects that are in a dangerous position and to inform their town councils if they spot instances of killer litter.

Over the next few months, it will be sending advisory letters to all HDB households and displaying posters on all notice boards in HDB estates to encourage a zero-tolerance attitude towards killer litter.

"With more than 80 per cent of Singaporeans living in high-rise HDB flats, it is important that every HDB resident plays an active role in building a safe living environment for all," it said.

Mr Chong Yi Teng, a 36-year-old civil servant who lives in an HDB flat in Bedok, said of the growing problem:

"It's worrying. People need to be more considerate."

The HDB could consider setting up a block of flats for repeat killer-litter offenders, he suggested.

"Living there will be an embarrassment, not just for the offender, but for the rest of the family as well," he said.

This will also help to ensure that the family members keep an eye on each other, he added. Ms Kathryn Wong, 51, a senior claims executive who lives in a flat in Ang Mo Kio, feels that education is the most effective long-term measure to curb this problem.

"I often see young children throwing things out windows.

"Just a few weeks ago, my colleague told me that her child threw a toy down," she said.

Children might not realise the consequences of their actions, so it is up to the parents to educate them, she said.

"A way to stop kids from throwing things out the window can be as simple as telling them that a policeman will come looking for them because they did something that can harm others," she added.

Religious groups which are also concerned about the issue have moved to urge their devotees not to follow practices that could potentially result in killer litter.

The Singapore Buddhist Federation, Buddhist temple Wat Ananda Metyarama and the Taoist Federation (Singapore) issued a joint press statement on the matter yesterday.

They said that it is not in line with their religious practices to place items such as altars on parapet walls or common property in a precarious manner, as they pose a potential safety hazard.

They added: "Killer litter can cause serious injury and even loss of innocent lives, which cannot be condoned.

"With joint efforts from all parties concerned, together we canmake our public-housing estates safe and pleasant for everyone."

Anyone convicted of throwing killer litter can be fined up to $2,500 and/or jailed for up to six months.

The HDB can also acquire a flat or terminate the tenancy of a rental flat if residents flout this law.


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