Wednesday, 11 March 2015

From City of Garbage to a City of Drunkards

This is a city that was the pride of anyone living here, locals and foreigners, to bring up children. I think a line has been broken, when crime related to unrestricted drinking in every neighbourhood must be intolerable for the govt to act against their darlings, the very nice foreigners. They clamped down on Little India and they started drinking everywhere. Think for the safety of your loved ones, the mothers, wives and daughters, coming home alone and walking pass a bunch of drunkards all high and losing their senses and restraints.

I don’t think this new drinking ban is against the locals. Our Singaporeans have been drinking for centuries, before and after independence, and there was no need for such a ban. What is the solution if not this ban? There are 2m of them out there and saying that they are prone to misbehave when drunk is an understatement. Ask the taxi drivers for first hand encounters.

For those who are advocating free drinking in my neighbourhood or backyard, please think carefully before you speak. Who are those who would drink all over the place, even in the parks, in the beaches or at barbeque corners? We have a problem, and a very serious one for this ban by the govt. Don’t wait for something nasty to happen to your loved ones before you regret arguing against this ban, unless you have a better solution.

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Singapore: A Clean or Cleaned City?
Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Environment and Water Resources and MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said that Singaporeans must have a "zero tolerance" attitude towards littering in public places

Many of you would agree that litter is still prevalent in many community areas with high human traffic such as town centres and bus interchanges, especially before the cleaners have started work. We have all seen how neighbourhoods, parks, bus stops and waterways can go from being clean in the day after the cleaners had done their rounds, to being littered and dirty again by the next morning.

We must bear in mind that every single item of litter that we see is because somebody has been inconsiderate, ungracious and anti-social. A key reason of course, is the wrong attitude that cleaners are there to pick up after us, and the misplaced notion that this is appropriate behaviour because cleaners are paid to do so.

One alarming statistic from NEA's recent surveys is that 36% of Singaporeans would only bin their litter if it is convenient to do so. The solution cannot be to employ more cleaners. As I said in Parliament earlier this week, even while we try to improve cleaning standards and the employment conditions of cleaners, we would have to cope with fewer cleaners and therefore our reliance on them has to decrease. But the larger and more important point is what kind of society we will be, and how our environment reflects on our attitudes and culture. Will we be capable of cherishing and protecting our public spaces even if they do not personally belong to any one of us?

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Keep Singapore Clean campaign

Prior to 1968, Singapore had already conducted a number of similar campaigns. One of the earliest was the Keep Your City Clean campaign, an anti-littering initiative organised by the City Council in 1958. The following year, the government launched the Gerakkan Pembersehan Bandar Raya Singapura, meaning “movement to clean the city of Singapore”. During his opening speech on 23 November 1959, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew said that he wanted to use this campaign as a starting point for Singapore to become one of the cleanest and healthiest cities in Asia.

In the subsequent years leading up to the launch of the Keep Singapore Clean campaign, the government continued to conduct campaigns regularly to instil a sense of responsibility in individuals to keep Singapore clean and to encourage them to bin their rubbish.

The first Keep Singapore Clean campaign - In August 1968, the government announced that a national campaign committee had been formed to run the Keep Singapore Clean campaign to be held in October. Headed by the health minister Chua Sian Chin, the committee comprised representatives from various government agencies such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Culture, Public Works Department and Jurong Town Corporation, as well as non-government organisations like employers' and employees’ associations.

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42 years of Keeping Singapore Clean and still trying to keep Singapore clean
Not such a tasty treat ... litter strewn on the streets of Singapore

I have noticed of late, walking around parts of Singapore, that there is quite a lot of litter strewn around on the streets. Reflecting on how far we have come as we prepare to celebrate 45 years of our being, it is remarkable how far we have come in some ways and how, despite attempts made at educating us, we have retained some of the less desirable habits of old. Old habits die hard I suppose, but thinking back at the many campaigns we have had, it does come as a surprise that when it comes to littering, we still have a long way to go.

This October, it would be 42 years since the first “Keep Singapore Clean” campaign, launched in 1968, at a time when there certainly was a need to raise awareness of the ills of littering, and a need to clean the streets of Singapore up. Along with the enforcement of public health laws which were passed that year which prescribed penalties for littering, the campaigns went a long way initially to improve conditions in Singapore. In the period of time since then, we have indeed seen a dramatic improvement in the environment that we can certainly be proud of.

What is interesting to note at the time of the passing of the laws, was that Mr. Chua Sian Chin, the then Minister for Health had, had been quoted in saying that “the changed political and social circumstances, as well as the behaviour patterns and attitudes of the local population needed to be taken into account”. While this may have justified the need for the use of penalties to serve as a deterrent and for the need for enforcement then, it shouldn’t really be the case now, when we have seen a great leap forward in our political and social circumstances, and also in higher education and literacy levels. But somehow, education and literacy hasn’t really translated into the increased social consciousness that one would expect, and if it wasn’t for the threat of fines (increased since 1968) and the introduction of the Corrective Work Order (CWO) scheme, and as an observer had once commented, the “army of cleaners” we have on the streets, we would probably revert to a level of filth that wouldn’t be far off from what we would have seen in the Singapore of the 1960s.

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The “Keep Singapore Clean” Campaign was one of the first nationwide public education programmes to combat littering.
The Keep Singapore Clean Campaign was one of the first nationwide public education programmes mounted by the government. Launched by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 1 October 1968, the month-long campaign aimed to make Singapore the cleanest and greenest city in the region by addressing the problem of inconsiderate littering. It sought to instill in Singaporeans the importance of keeping public places clean.

The campaign was part of a larger public cleansing plan which included changes in public health laws, relocation and licensing of itinerant hawkers, development of proper sewage systems, and disease control. 

he government believed that improved environmental conditions not only enhance the quality of life for Singaporeans and cultivate national pride, it also attracts foreign investors and tourists to Singapore.

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Let’s bring back Operation Broomstick
Operation Broomstick

Health Minister Chua Sian Chin at MacPherson Estate


"PM Lee personally leads the way in a mass drive to spring-clean the city for the National Loyalty Week in 1959."

Many years ago we used to have a Keep Singapore Clean Campaign. Later we upgraded it to the Keep Singapore Clean and Green Movement. Recently we further upgraded (that’s Singapore for you, we believe in continuous upgrading) that to the Keep Singapore Beautiful Movement.

As for me, I say, let’s bring back Operation Broomstick. What’s the point in trying to be green when you cannot even be clean? And if you are dirty, there no way you can be beautiful, right?

What is Operation Broomstick? According to the People’s Association’s publication, Citizens, Conversations & Collaborations: Chronicles of the Citizens’ Consultative Committee:
“The Housing and Development Board launches Operation Broomstick in 1968 to clear housing estates of litter and rubbish, and CCC leaders are there to help get residents to take an active part in the massive nationwide operation – right down to elderly women with their own brooms.”
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Litter problem, big headache

AN IN-DEPTH study to figure out the cause of littering, getting young students to try being cleaners for a day and heavier penalties are among the suggestions made to stop Singapore from becoming a "garbage city".

Academics, civil society members and Singapore residents whom The Straits Times spoke to also have their own take on why the problem persists and what needs to be done to solve it.

Aside from the often-cited reasons such as complacency fostered by an army of cleaners, a "don't care" attitude and growing up pampered, some suggest that different cultural attitudes among some of Singapore's new citizens and foreign workers, and a reluctance to truly shame culprits, could also be behind the country's litter woes.

related:
1 night, 1 bridge, 50 bags of trash
Why is littering still a problem?
S'pore needs to progress to become a truly clean city: PM Lee
Myanmar fans clear up trash left behind at National Stadium


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Why is littering still a problem?

Rubbish on the Alexandra Arch bridge across Alexandra Road. Observers believe complacency may be one reason for Singapore’s litter woes

COMPLACENCY is the likely reason for Singapore's litter woes.

Experts say that when people know there will be an army of cleaners to pick up after them, they become too lazy to do the right thing.

Singapore residents and Members of Parliament offer reasons why people do not clean up after themselves:

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1 night, 1 bridge, 50 bags of trash
HARD WORK: Mr Keria Peli can collect 50 bags of trash in just one night of cleaning Read Bridge and its vicinity

In one night, it is not uncommon for Mr Keria Peli to collect 50 trash bags of litter from Read Bridge and its vicinity.

On a bad day, he collects 30 bags from just one round of cleaning the bridge.

This is despite the fact that at least five dustbins are placed around the bridge

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Liak Teng Lit: 5 million people, 70,000 cleaners...that’s ridiculous!

Q: When did Singaporeans’ standards on cleanliness start to drop? - My memory of the 1980s was that Singapore was perfect. And we truly could be proud of being a clean city. Things were by and large okay for the next 10, 15 years. But slowly, it gradually deteriorated. My own impression is that the last couple of years were particularly bad. Behaviour began to shift, people no longer worried about being caught for littering.

The lack of enforcement (in catching litterbugs), or the sharp decline in enforcement, probably has escalated the problem but it’s also the whole society changing. There are a lot of people who take it for granted that people will pick up after you.

A couple of years back, when they started having cleanliness as a Key Performance Indicator for town councils, it became that every time (one) didn’t do a good job picking up litter, they got a scolding.

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PAP style populism: 70,000 cleaners
My conservative estimate is that we didn't even half as as many cleaners as now in the 80s and early 90s when we were much cleaner

The 70,000 came about because of town councils and management by KPIs. Then our leaders when it suits them turn around and scold us for littering when they were trafficking us cleaners to indulge our littering habit and convenience!

See Liak Teng Lit explains the situation without offending the government. Just need to use a little bit more of brain power to fill in the missing bits, but this is harder than spotting Shamugam dumb but probably mischievous mistakes with the MA rates to nail the WP.


We are a place run by too many people whose hearts are in the wrong places. MPs are eager to win and maintain support from keeping housing estates clean. The lazy way out is to add cleaners but this created huge negative externalities in a cramped place like Singapore.

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Start learning to stop littering

ONE army to protect against external threats, and one to deal with litter ("'5 million people, 70,000 cleaners... that's ridiculous!'"; Feb 14). What a shocking but apt analogy.

Reading the article brought to mind a scene I recently observed in a school canteen - five Secondary 4 students were eating lunch when three of them stood up and took off in different directions, leaving their cups and plates on the table. The two remaining students immediately got up and left too. In walked an elderly cleaner, who proceeded to clear the mess.

With little variation, this scene is a common one in Singapore's schools, despite operations managers and teachers watching over the students.

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Singapore a 'Clean' or ‘Cleaned' City?
They came, they saw and they littered

The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay was litterfree before the start of Laneway Festival. PHOTO: INKNHYMY/ INSTAGRAM

Laneway Festival-goers left their mark - & their trash - behind last Saturday.

It prompted PM Lee Hsien Loong to comment on Facebook: "We need to progress from being a cleaned city to a truly clean city."Yes, this is ‪#‎Singapore‬'s dirty shame. What can you do about it?

TNP's Linette Heng suggests some ways.

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Drink Drunk Drama for the New Year
Man caught sleeping with his pants down at Bugis MRT

A group of male workers were seen sleeping on the floor at Bugis MRT Station in the wee hours of New Year's Day, with one of them seen with his pants down to his ankles, reported readers from Stomp.

According to Stomp contributors Kampong Boys, the group of six to seven men appeared drunk and some of them were lying half-naked at the MRT station after 4am in the morning.

In the photos, the men are sprawled across the floor and sleeping with their arms shedding their eyes from the light. Most of the men pictured were sleeping with no shoes on.

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Singapore Riot Caused by 400 Drunkards?

Alcohol is being served up as a factor in the Singapore riot involving nearly 400 people of mostly Indian and Indian sub-continent origin, and a complete ban on alcohol will be implemented this weekend in the area where the riot erupted. Last Sunday’s riot broke out after an Indian man was fatally run0ver by a bus in the neighborhood known as Little India and was the first of its kind in nearly 40 years of general, “lackadaisical” tranquility.

According to Singapore’s local newspaper, The Straits Times, Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, was inebriated when he tried to board the bus that fatally struck him. The bus was already full when he got on, then he “misbehaved” and was asked to get off. After getting down, he became trapped under the rear left wheel of the bus as it made a left turn according to the local media. He was pronounced dead on arrival by a paramedic. While rescuers tried to remove the body, the rioting began as the crowd that witnessed the accident began throwing things. Eventually, fires were lit, police cars were burned and damaged and 27 men of South Asian descent were arrested. They face up to seven years in prison with a side of caning.

Singapore’s top brass has conveniently attributed the riot, in part, to alcohol. The Second Minister for Home Affairs, S Iswaran, publicly stated that it was “plausible that alcohol consumption was a contributory factor” to the riot though it is too early to determine the exact cause. Hence, the alcohol ban is their “step in the first instance” to bring about stability, according to the Minister.

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No more alcoholic picnics after 10:30pm in Singapore

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) today proposed laws in Parliament that will prohibit the consumption of liquor in public places from 10:30pm to 7am everyday. If the Bill passes, you'll only be able to get your drink on at home, at approved events or within licensed premises such as bars, cafes and restaurants.

In support of the new laws, retail stores will also stop selling takeaway liquor at 10:30pm. An extension may be granted on a case-by-case basis under the liquor licensing regime.

MHA says the Bill also gives the police the power to intervene early and take necessary action to mitigate risks of disorder and disamenities arising from public drunkenness.

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Confessions of a beer promoter: Shorter skirts, more business
She sashays from table to table, refilling beer mugs and chatting with "regulars"

Dressed in a tight polo shirt and a miniskirt, she easily captures the attention of the many patrons at Ang Mo Kio S-11 foodcourt every evening.
"Do you want to order beer?" she asks, flashing the patrons a seductive smile.
Say "yes" and Xiao Ping, as she is known at the foodcourt, will recommend her company's brand, Dester.

The 23-year-old has been working as a beer promoter since she was 19.

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