Returning trays is everyone's duty

I disagree with the points made by Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi in his letter (Fees for trays not the solution; Sept 23).

Returning trays with soiled crockery is not the primary responsibility of just canteen or hawker centre operators.

It is everyone's social responsibility to keep the environment clean, including at hawker centres.

By returning the trays, patrons are helping to reduce the workload of the operators so that the tables can be ready for use by other customers more quickly.

Residents in places like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Australia return their trays as a matter of course.

However, such a habit has not been cultivated in Singapore.

Therefore, I agree with Mr Damian Ng Swee Beng that a better way is to charge a deposit to enforce tray return (Charge nominal fee for trays at hawker centres; Sept 19).

I migrated from Hong Kong to Singapore in 1995.

Since that time, my family members and I would automatically return trays and not litter, as the Hong Kong government had emphasised social discipline and responsibility.

I was and still am surprised at how Singaporeans would rely on others to return their trays, and at how littering is such a serious problem here.

The Singapore Government needs to overhaul its campaign to promote social responsibility among the people.

Mr Chan's point that operators should not be looking at profit in fulfilling their responsibility sounds unrealistic, as quality service comes at a price.

He also said that the issue of the choping of seats will become unnecessary if there are enough seats.

This is also unrealistic, as there will never be enough seats to meet the demand during peak hours.

Ng Sung Nang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Returning trays is everyone's duty'. Print Edition | Subscribe