Keeping Singapore Clean – Is it possible?


I don’t know if its coincidental, or just that everybody has had enough of seeing the terrible state of cleanliness in Singapore. I am seeing more actions in the press and around my neighbourhood. Suddenly, I get telephone calls from NEA, assuring me that they are dealing with my feedbacks. Once, NEA officers even visited me to check on my complain regarding my neighbourhood in Burgundy Hills. An officer from PA Bukit Gombak even called me to explain the red tapes they faced regarding how to keep the place clean.

This is what I learned. In a location, there could be as many as three bodies in charged of cleanliness. The bus stops, including the roads and the bins are under LTA. The park connector and walkways, depending on the location, could be under NParks. The hardcourts, or areas around HDB or private estates like mine are under the town councils.

While NEA is responsible for pollution and general littering problems, the town councils maintain the regular cleaning through their contractors. Thus when I complained to NEA about the rim and bus stop at my estate, and made suggestions such that they should returf the ledge along the walls of my estate, add another bin at the bus stop and how often they should clean the place, NEA was at a loss for reply. The bus stop is under LTA and hence the bins are LTA’s. The ledge should be under NParks and the regular cleaning is done by the Bukit Batok Council. But, NEA assured me they’ll get things sorted.

In my twice nightly walk around the Hillview Connector or during my runs at Ulu Pandan Park Connector, I bring along a bag to pick up the trash along the way. I can safely say that the biggest pollutors are smokers. It’s expected, since they have no qualms about polluting their body and the air, what’s more the environment.

The next culprits are dog walkers, whom I suspect are maids. They’ll bag the poo and then decide not to carry the bag to the bin. So, they just dump the bag of poo along the way. (I once picked up three bags of poo along a stretch of road.)

Next are Contractors, mostly Malaysians and foreigners. Whenever my neighbours have contractors over, the place will be littered with drink bags, cigarettes and other stuff as if to announce their arrival.

Littering from vehicles is also a big contributor to the problem. I have a black book in my car for me to record any vehicles which I see littering. I have made so many reports to NEA I think the officers there must loath to see my name on the emails. Just stop at any traffic junctions and note the trash there. Bags of food container, drink bottles, cans, cigarettes butt etc. Please readers, if you witness an act of littering while driving, do record down the vehicle number, date and time and place of offence. My sons are so well-trained by me they automatically take note of all these details when they are on the road.

Among the litterbugs I come across, I am the most ashamed of my peers – parents and grandparents who litter. At all the army Passing-out-parades (POP), or family visits, whether held at the Marina floating platform or in camps, there are bound to be litters everywhere after the event. Why can’t the people bag the rubbish and take them along with them? Once, I spotted a Grandpa throwing  a piece of tissue into the drain before picking up his grandson from NYPS. On another occasion, Mike chided a senior woman for throwing her piece of tissue into the drain at Tiong Bahru market car park. Her husband sheepishly went to retrieve the tissue and disposed it in the bin. I hope she learned her lesson from this embarrassing episode.

Which brings me back to my visit to the cinema at The Cathay last Tuesday. The Grand Cathay had litters everywhere on the carpeted floor and finished drink cups on the holders after the movie. These are educated people watching Argo, yet they can’t clean up after themselves?

At the ladies’ toilet after the movie, tissue papers were placed on the sink top when the bin was just directly behind. It was the same in the toilet at the new Mt Elizabeth Novena Medical Centre on Wednesday. Tissues were thrown at the vanity top instead of the bin, marring an otherwise perfect environment. What is wrong with these women?

As I typed this, I noted the bags of thrash lining along Bukit Batok East Ave 3 just outside my estate. The place had just been cleaned, and quite frequent too lately. Before my feedback, the place had not been cleaned for more than a month and the most unusual litter, a diaper, lay by the side of a tree for a few weeks. There was no cleaning, and there was no supervision or audit done by the town councils to ensure job done.

Other than relying on cleaning contractor, LTA or the relevant authorities like PWD or PUB, should ensure that their contractors clean up daily and thoroughly after a job, leaving no thrash behind, which is often not the case. I noticed that there are more thrash after grass cutting is done at my estate. (I don’t know which department the contractor reports to., NPark or Town Councils?)

The past decades of many families having maids have a detrimental effect on Singapore. We and our next generation have forgotten how to clean up after ourselves. We are too busy to stop and smell the flowers, and are also blind to the litters and thrash around us, expecting others to clean up, or not, after us.

This makes me pessimistic about things to come. Can we ever keep Singapore Clean?

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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5 Responses to Keeping Singapore Clean – Is it possible?

  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 12 Nov 2012 | The Singapore Daily

  2. sputz says:

    NO! in answer to your question.
    Because, by and large, while everyone goes to school here,
    very few are actually what you would label as “educated”.
    And I’m not talking foreigners.

  3. Pingback: Weekly Round Up: Week 46 (12 Nov – 16 Nov 2012) | The Singapore Daily

  4. Aiyoh says:

    With 2 out of 5 residents not a local, we have not only imported foreign talent but also foreign culture and habit. Law of unintended consequences …

  5. Any says:

    We have been bluffing ourselves for years that we are a clean and green state. If we have weekly disposal of compost, recyclables and fortnightly removal of garbage, it may work to change our attitude towards waste. Having additional bins will not help as if successfully used, what about the landfills and resultant pollution from the incinerators. Keeping clean is also a big step towards the green fight. Everything is saved, including unnecessary labour. But then, with all the enblocs, a very bad example is already set.
    In the old days, we had tiffins for our take away. It may be a good idea to bring this back. If you want a plate of noodles and require the vendor to supply the utensils, charge 5 times, 10 times the current rates (obviously the added income be passed back generously to the cleaners) and let’s see whether anyone will pay or bring their own containers and hopefully solve our notorious dirty food courts image.
    When we talk of our state being green, what’s so great when there’s a need to water them manually, fertilize them etc? In today’s green movement, environmentalists talk of greening using native vegetation as they survive based on the as it is condition, require hardly much maintenance and non invasive. Our Garden by the Bay? It’s just a big scale imitation of Kew Gardens harking back to the days of the British Empire, and of course the British having an empire thinks it’s theirs to bring back some exotic stuff from the countries they rule. Rather than a Garden by the Bay, why not a park with local vegetation, minimal hardscape to allow rain water to permeate? In fact, a recent study showed we are becoming a heat island effect.
    If we really want to be there with the developed countries, we need first to acknowledge we haven’t reached there yet and shed off our colonial mentality where we have hordes of coolies. amahs and peons awaiting.
    Like what Professor Lim CY said, we need a shock therapy. Let our public toilets, neighbourhoods, parks etc either deteriorate beyond recognition, diseases run rampant for us to learn or we buck up before it happens.

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