IT was reported that a Singaporean court has convicted a smoker and fined him US$15,000 for throwing cigarette butts out of his apartment which were recorded on closed circuit television for a total of 34 times. He was fined $600 for the first 33 offences and for the 34th offence he was ordered to do community work and has to wear a bright vest bearing the words "Correction Work Order."
Harsh though it may seem, but that is the order of the day for anyone found to defy the strict laws pertaining to vandalism and littering in Singapore. The courts do not look kindly at offenders who have no civil consciousness for public decency and order. No one is left off the hook once an offence is committed and the culprit has to pay hugely for a so called “minor offence” as compared with other countries.
Singapore has no love for those wanting to litter or vandalise public places and has since built an international reputation for world standard on cleanliness and housekeeping second to none, in my opinion.
We can learn from that tidy nation on how to maintain cleanliness and to stop littering and vandalism at our backyard despite a number of international protests when foreigners were caught and convicted for littering and vandalism in Singapore. Offenders were fined, canned or imprisoned or a combination of these penalties when the courts meted out the punishment.
We have been to restaurants which have signage that says "No Smoking" but smokers still smoke.
Restaurants, coffee shops and other food courts are supposed to be no-smoking areas but none of these owners dare to move an inch to stop them for fear they might lose their business. Much to the agitation of non-smokers, none dare to voice disapproval for fear of starting a quarrel.
While we have laws on smoking, anti-littering and vandalism, unfortunately and sadly, these laws are not used at all to deter those bent wanting to smoke in "No Smoking" areas or throw their household rubbish along the roadside or areas that were not designated as rubbish dump or destroy public properties.
Very seldom enforcement officers would want to act when they see violators smoking or littering in broad day-light.
Do we need the public to act or make a citizen arrest? Imagine the chaos that will be created when concerned citizens start to voice their concern and to act against these habitual offenders.
If we want to be a developed country by 2020, one of our concerns is to ensure we know how to maintain and sustain our environment the best we could.
Cleanliness and housekeeping must be the order of the day, failing which, we are not going to be respected despite we may have achieved developed status.
On the other hand, we want our enforcement agencies to start cracking the whip without fear and favour. Give no room for anyone bent on littering and vandalism but to act without mercy for those caught in their act and bring them to court for punishment to be meted out.
Time to stop acts of public nuisance and make our environment a healthier place.
Dr. Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor The NST You Write 27 Jan 2015