Stepped-up blitz nets more litterbugs
FACT: The number of litterbugs nabbed in the first six months of the year matches the total number nabbed throughout all of last year.
Fact: More people have been served with Corrective Work Orders (CWOs) in the first six months of this year than all of last year.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the sharp rise is a result of stepped-up enforcement efforts. Otherwise, we seem to be littering twice as frequently.
Slice the numbers any way you like, they don't make for pleasant reading.
The first six months of this year saw 9,271 people slapped with littering tickets. The total number for last year was 9,346.
The first six months of the year saw 318 CWOs served. All of last year saw just 261.
In fact, the spike began in the second half of last year, when 6,928 tickets for littering were issued. This was three times the number issued in the first half of last year.
This ties in with NEA's claim about ramping up enforcement.
Since May last year, NEA's officers have been putting in 35,000 enforcement hours each month, compared to 24,000 before that.
Wherever there are littering hot spots - NEA has identified 90 of them around hawker centres, MRT stations and shopping malls - there are more eyes waiting to nab litterbugs.
Derek Ho, NEA's Director-General, Environmental Public Health Division, said: "It is regrettable that some members of our society are not house-proud, even though Singapore is their home."
Jose Raymond, chief executive of the Singapore Environment Council, said it was a minority who were spoiling it for the majority that want a clean environment.
Lee Bee Wah, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for National Development and Environment, said that the spike in the numbers could also signal that there is a "high percentage of people who are littering indiscriminately".
This, despite harsher penalties.
Since April this year, penalties for littering are twice as harsh.
Offenders face a maximum fine of $2,000 for the first conviction, $4,000 for the second conviction and $10,000 for the third and subsequent convictions.
Of those who performed corrective work in the past two years, only 3.3 per cent were subsequently caught for littering again, said the NEA.
But stiffer penalties can go only so far.
Said Mr Raymond: "Ultimately, it is still down to personal behaviour."
Ms Lee said some might litter because they feel they are "entitled to as they pay for cleaners to clean up after them".
She added: "At the end of the day, there will be no quick fix. It will take some more years before the message sinks in, just as we got rid of spitting in public."