Nee Soon South residents turn cleaners for a day

SINGAPORE - Armed with a big plastic bag and a trash grabber, 71-year-old Leyu Yeet Yen kept her eyes peeled for any sign of trash in the Nee Soon South neighbourhood.

Within an hour, Madam Leyu had filled the bag with discarded water bottles and food wrappers, among other things.

She was among 500 residents in Nee Soon South who took charge of cleaning the neighbourhood yesterday, after the estate's 80 cleaners got a break on Labour Day.

As part of No Cleaners Day, the volunteers combed 164 blocks of flats and recreational areas, picking up litter that included plastic bags, cigarette butts, cigarette packets and unwanted fliers.

Some 500kg of trash was collected yesterday, a sharp decrease from the 1,430kg raked up during the inaugural event last year.

Mr Ng Hak Hai, chairman of the Clean and Green Committee at Nee Soon South, said: "We hope this is because people are more aware of the need to keep their estate clean. Next year, we hope to bring the number down further."

Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC and grassroots adviser Lee Bee Wah said that No Cleaners Day, along with monthly litter-picking exercises, would help residents develop the habit of keeping their neighbourhoods clean.

Ms Lee added: "Residents get the understand why it's important not to litter, because it is not easy to pick up every bit and take it to the (rubbish) point."

She hopes that No Cleaners Day will be extended to the entire GRC next year.

Assistant architect Freddy Hein, 32, who took part in yesterday's clean-up, said: "It was a good chance to show my boys, aged five and nine, the importance of disposing of litter properly."

Madam Leyu feels her estate is cleaner than it was two years ago, but she said Singaporeans still have a long way to go.

"We must strive to be as clean as Tokyo. When I was there on holiday, I noticed that there was not even a piece of tissue paper on the streets," she added.

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