Parliament Q&A


TOPICS: Cleanliness

Mr Liang Eng Hwa, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) whether NEA can extend the deployment of surveillance cameras beyond HDB estates to high-rise private estates to carry out enforcements against high-rise littering: and (b) whether the Ministry will amend the necessary legislation to empower NEA to do so.

Mr Kwek Hian Chuan Henry, MP for Nee Soon GRC: To ask the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources whether there are effective programmes to cultivate the habit of not littering and to dispose of waste in a proper manner like that in Japan and Taiwan.

Reply by Dr Amy Khor:

        Singaporeans take pride in a clean and green Singapore and most do their part to keep the environment clean. However, there is an irresponsible minority that continues to litter and disregard prevailing societal norms. To tackle such anti-social conduct, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has taken a tough stance on litterbugs.  Last year, it took 32,000 enforcement actions against littering offenders.

2 While enforcement may serve as a deterrent, it is not the panacea. Our primary line of defence against such behaviour should be to foster collective responsibility for our environment and cultivate positive social norms and civic mindedness among our people.

3 To this end, the NEA and various partner organisations have been conducting campaigns and programmes to promote environmental awareness and encourage greater stewardship of our common spaces. The annual Clean & Green Singapore (CGS) co-organised by the NEA, PUB, the National Parks Board (NParks), and the Community Development Councils (CDCs) encourages the community to play an active role in keeping Singapore clean and litter-free. There are also other initiatives such as the Public Hygiene Council’s annual Keep Clean, Singapore! campaign which advocates the value of maintaining cleanliness beyond our own homes, and fostering the habit of picking up after oneself. The month-long event held in May this year saw more than 370 organisations, including grassroots organisations, public agencies, and corporations, take part in more than 500 clean-up activities across the island. NEA has also been targeting its publicity efforts at mass events such as the National Day Parade celebrations to remind people to pick up after themselves. These efforts reflect the whole-of-society approach needed to keep our public spaces clean.

4 Our national schools have also set aside time for students to clean the common areas of their school each day, and these activities have helped to inculcate values such as a sense of responsibility and consideration for others, as well as for the environment. By starting young, these positive habits are passed down through the generations, just like in Japan today.

5 To the Member’s question regarding littering in high-rise estates, our approach is no different; we will continue to work with grassroots organisations and town councils to raise awareness about this issue amongst residents. Unlike public estates, private estates are collectively owned by their residents and public access to such estates are restricted. Home owners in private estates therefore have the autonomy to govern and manage the shared private spaces in a responsible manner. For this to happen, residents should come together to encourage and influence acceptable social behaviour in their communities. Many condominiums have already put in place by-laws prohibiting littering within their estates. The management committees of these private estates can work with their residents to cultivate the right behaviour accordingly.

6 While the Government will persist in our efforts to develop greater environmental stewardship, we cannot do this alone. I urge everyone to play their part in keeping Singapore a clean and green city. 

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