$300 fine for shooting rubber bands sparks debate on littering

NEA enforcement officers observed the man walking towards his vehicle and shooting two rubber bands, one after the other, which landed on a public road. ST FILE PHOTO
NEA enforcement officers observed the man walking towards his vehicle and shooting two rubber bands, one after the other, which landed on a public road. ST FILE PHOTO

A man was fined $300 for littering after he was caught shooting two rubber bands onto a public road, a punishment that has stirred debate among some netizens.

A photo of the ticket issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) has gone viral on Facebook.

Several netizens expressed surprise that a littering ticket was issued for shooting rubber bands. Others agreed with the fine, saying litterbugs should be punished regardless of the size of the item thrown.

In a statement yesterday, NEA confirmed the offence was committed on May 23.

"NEA is aware of the images circulating online of enforcement tickets issued for leaving behind drink cans and throwing rubber bands in a public place," the agency said.

Its enforcement officers observed the man walking towards his vehicle and shooting two rubber bands, one after the other, which landed on a public road. "Our officers thus informed him of the littering offence and issued him an enforcement ticket," the agency said.

The photo of the ticket stated the offender has to pay the fine by noon on July 8. The NEA confirmed the image was not doctored.

 
 

It also said that in a separate incident on May 16, two men were fined $300 each for leaving drink cans on a wooden box outside a unit at Woodlands MRT station.

Both paid their fines on May 20.

"We would like to remind the public that littering has environmental consequences, and keeping our environment clean by not littering is a gracious and socially responsible thing to do," the NEA said.

About 39,000 people were fined for littering last year, according to statistics the NEA released earlier this month. This is 7,000 more than in 2017. Under the Environmental Public Health Act, the maximum fine for littering is $2,000 for the first conviction, $4,000 for the second, and $10,000 for the third and subsequent convictions. First-time offenders will get a $300 fine.

Repeat offenders prosecuted in court may be fined or get a corrective work order, or both.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2019, with the headline '$300 fine for shooting rubber bands sparks debate on littering'. Print Edition | Subscribe