Parliament: 7,700 cases of high-rise littering in past three years

A demonstration of how the National Environment Agency's surveillance cameras can capture someone throwing rubbish out of the window. The cameras helped catch more than 2,200 high-rise litterbugs between August 2012 and December last year, of whom 52
A demonstration of how the National Environment Agency's surveillance cameras can capture someone throwing rubbish out of the window. The cameras helped catch more than 2,200 high-rise litterbugs between August 2012 and December last year, of whom 52 were repeat offenders.ST FILE PHOTO

Amy Khor: Efforts by NEA, town councils, grassroots groups helped in most cases

More than 7,700 cases of high-rise littering were reported between 2016 and last year to the National Environment Agency (NEA), ranging between 2,300 and 2,800 each year on average.

In most cases, the situation improved following efforts by the NEA, town councils and grassroots organisations to caution against such offences, but the inconsiderate acts persist in some cases, said Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor in Parliament yesterday.

To address this, the NEA has deployed surveillance cameras with video analytics since 2012 to catch offenders in the act, she said, adding that the cameras have "contributed significantly to improving NEA's enforcement effort".

The cameras helped catch more than 2,200 high-rise litterbugs between August 2012 and December last year, of whom 52 were repeat offenders.

MPs had asked about high-rise littering, in the wake of the death of a 73-year-old man struck by a wine bottle thrown from a height at the Spottiswoode 18 condominium.

Australian national Andrew Gosling was charged last Friday with causing death by performing a rash act.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten) called for stricter punishment of repeat offenders: "Would NEA be open to working with HDB to repossess the flats of recalcitrant high-rise litterers, because really they pose a danger to the rest of the residents..."

Replying, Dr Khor said stiff penalties are in place to deter high-rise littering. First-time offenders can be fined up to $2,000 for each offence, while recalcitrants face fines of up to $10,000, or Corrective Work Order (CWO) in addition to, or in lieu of, a fine on conviction. About 2,600 CWOs were issued last year.

First-time offenders can be fined up to $2,000 for each offence, while recalcitrants face fines of up to $10,000, or Corrective Work Order in addition to, or in lieu of, a fine on conviction.

 
 
 
 

In May, the NEA redesigned the CWO vest for offenders to increase the deterrent effect. The vest, which was in fluorescent yellow, is now a luminous pink and yellow combination that is hard to miss.

On the suggestion to repossess HDB flats, Dr Khor said: "These are extreme measures and we really need to consider all factors before the relevant authority can make a decision on this."

The NEA received about 26,000 reports of littering and 2,700 reports of indiscriminate disposal of bulky items in public places last year, she added.

There were 39,000 cases where it took action against public litterbugs, and another 30 for the unlawful disposal of bulky items in public places.

"While we have laws to deter littering and other environmental offences, it is more important that we foster collective responsibility for our environment and cultivate positive social norms," Dr Khor said.

To this end, the NEA works closely with the Public Hygiene Council and partners of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement, she said, adding that significant resources are also devoted to engaging a wide range of stakeholders.

Dr Khor said many of these stakeholders do ground-up activities such as litter picking, beach and park clean-ups, and cleaner appreciation days.

Residents should also bin their litter properly, and contact their town councils for help in disposing of bulky waste items if they are living in public estates, she added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 04, 2019, with the headline '7,700 cases of high-rise littering in past three years'. Print Edition | Subscribe