Clean city? Singapore not there yet: Vivian

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan is the latest politician to take litterbugs to task.

This comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to trash left behind at a music festival and urged people to pick up their litter, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong took to Facebook to say that Singapore is likely to become a "garbage city" without foreign workers.

Addressing residents at a community event at Hong Kah North Community Centre yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said that how clean a place is reflects what people think of themselves, their respect for their neighbours and their concern for the neighbourhood.

"Our homes do not stop at the door but the common corridor. The community club, the street, the garden, the park, all that is our home," he said.

"And if we do not mess up our own homes, then surely our streets, our clubs, our gardens must not be messed up."

He said this philosophy was brought up decades ago, in a 1968 speech by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yet 50 years on, Singapore has "not yet arrived".

Last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) issued 19,000 littering tickets, double that of 2013, in part due to stepped-up enforcement efforts. And Dr Balakrishnan said that the NEA is committed to stepping up enforcement further.

Singaporeans "must not be afraid to stand up and remind people to keep our homes, our neighbourhoods, clean and do our part", he added.

Yesterday, he also launched the Recycle-A-Bulb Challenge @South West, a programme which aims to help needy residents save on their electricity bills by giving them energy-efficient light bulbs. One energy-efficient light bulb will be given to a needy family, in exchange for every old or used bulb. The programme aims to collect 50,000 such light bulbs over the next five years, which would amount to $3.7 million savings for 12,500 low-income families.

The project is co-organised by the NEA and supported by grassroots groups, ITE College West and corporate organisations such as Keppel Land Limited, Singapore Post and DBS.

Said the Mayor of South West District Low Yen Ling: "We hope that other than lightening the load of our needy families, this will also help our residents in South West adopt energy-efficient ethics."

This article was first published on February 2, 2015.
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