The Straits Times
Published on Nov 26, 2012

Don't discard stick approach in anti-littering drive


LAWS to punish misdemeanours are ineffective if they carry a lot of bark but little bite ("Tougher laws work only if they are enforceable realistically" by Mr Chua Tiong Guan; last Thursday).

We cannot discard the stick and rely entirely on the carrot approach.

Most people are generally civic conscious and law-abiding, but those who are not need to be penalised.

When Mr Ong Eng Guan was Singapore's mayor more than 50 years ago, there were several clean-up campaigns. As a teenager, I saw him setting an example by personally sweeping the streets.

But we do not seem to have progressed much since those days.

Speaking generally about social graces, Singapore Kindness Movement general secretary William Wan ("Unity of purpose works in promoting public courtesies"; last Friday) said we should "exert enough social pressure for the inconsiderate person to know that such conduct is not acceptable. We are talking about a mindset change, and it will take some social approbation to bring about the transformation that we need".

On the same day, Mr Jason Ingham ("Students aren't the only ones that need lecturing on civic duties") wrote that "there is nothing like a good role model who does what he says. If everyone plays a part, then civic-mindedness will become the norm as opposed to being the exception".

These are noble ideals and we must put great effort into attaining them. But to help us reach the target, the authorities have to ensure that recalcitrants will always bear in mind that Singapore really is a "fine" city.

Lee Chiu San