Paying citizens for catching litterbugs is a slippery slope

Traffic wardens and other officials meting out fines on trivial matters such as illegal parking or littering are generally treated with disgust.

However, most people will still excuse them on the grounds that they are just doing their jobs.

The same cannot be said of your neighbour "snitching" on you for a reward ("Get rewarded for catching a litterbug?"; Oct 13).

It is one thing to make a police report out of one's sense of civic duty but it is quite another if it is done for money.

An analogy can be made to organ transplants, the entire morality of which would be turned upside down if it is done for financial gain rather than out of love, compassion and charity.

Opening this Pandora's Box also creates all sorts of issues.

For instance, would someone asking an offender for money that is more than his reward but less than the fine constitute extortion?

Or would the offender offering the same to the witness constitute bribery?

The latter scenario is clear if the witness is a paid public officer.

However, if he is not, then it would be a grey area that is hard to enforce.

Slowly, the bribery mentality and culture will creep in - one that says it is not just all right to offer money to "settle" issues but also that it is all right to accept it.

The idea of monetising civic consciousness is repugnant.

There is also the slippery slope of the same practice being expanded to include the policing of all sorts of minor untoward behaviour.

The harm that this practice will bring to the fabric of our society is incalculable.

It would be extremely difficult to undo the animosity and suspicion that it could cause among neighbours and fellow citizens.

It will also send all sorts of wrong messages to our next generation.

Let us not trade in "doing the right thing" with "doing the expeditious thing".

Wong Weng Fai