Time to clean up our act

Over the past two years, the drop in the standard of our country's cleanliness has become a major concern. Therefore, I support Public Hygiene Council chairman Liak Teng Lit's call for strict enforcement of laws to maintain our hard-earned reputation for cleanliness ("How to keep S'pore clean"; June 22).

At the same time, I would suggest some approaches to build on law-enforcement measures.

First, I urge MPs to take responsibility for ensuring public cleanliness in their wards.

I was particularly impressed by the cleanliness of the streets in Sri Lanka, not only in the city but also in the surrounding areas. I was told that the central government had appointed the head of each provincial government to be responsible for the cleanliness of the areas under his jurisdiction.

I know Nee Soon GRC MP Lee Bee Wah uses this method to address the littering problem in the estates in her ward, and it has indeed borne fruit.

Second, persuade shopkeepers to take responsibility for the cleanliness of the spaces in front of their shops, including the drains. This would be particularly effective in areas such as Serangoon Road and Chinatown.

These shopkeepers can also act as the "eyes and ears" of the authorities by alerting them to litterbugs.

Also, shopkeepers in Serangoon Road have been complaining that cleaning contractors have not been cleaning and clearing rubbish effectively. Bags of garbage are left in the back lanes and complaints to the authorities have not led to necessary action. Feedback from these shopkeepers should be addressed.

Lastly, schools should not only exhort students to keep Singapore clean, but also take concrete measures such as setting aside a couple of hours each week for students to clean up their schools and surroundings.

Some schools are already doing this but it should be a nationwide effort. Over time, this would send a powerful signal to our youth. Singapore can regain its title as one of the cleanest cities in the world through these sustained efforts. On its 50th birthday next year, the country deserves nothing less than this accolade.

Padmini Kesavapany (Mrs)

This article was first published on july 06, 2014.
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