Public reaction and support for Singapore to reclaim our status as one of the cleanest cities in the world has been very encouraging. I am grateful for all the many ideas and suggestions over the past few weeks.
One key element has been the need for increased and coordinated peer pressure, including empowering volunteers. NEA will conduct a special training course for senior members of environmental NGOs that will commence in January 2013. These volunteers will then be issued with authority cards which will enable them to identify and take enforcement action against recalcitrant persons who insist on littering. This will give them both moral and legal authority to set standards for our society.
Another idea that we are studying is how to use public feedback to investigate and possibly prosecute persons who litter in public areas. For example, NEA already prosecutes culprits who throw litter from moving vehicles based on the vehicle licence numbers. We will have to explore whether this is feasible when a member of the public identifies a culprit in a public area, especially when he or she is willing to testify in court. I would be grateful for more feedback and suggestions on this matter.
The key theme is to empower ordinary citizens to exert more peer pressure on anti-social persons in order to protect our common spaces.
We have also decided to increase the composition fine for littering from $300 to $500 for a first offence with effect from 1 March 2013. This increase is a symbol of our renewed commitment to clean up Singapore. We will also amend the Environment and Public Health Act next year to increase the penalty regimes for recurrent offenders.
We need a sense of urgency as we embark on this next phase of our clean up journey. I am optimistic that we can succeed through a combination of renewed personal commitment, increased peer pressure, tighter enforcement, heavier penalties and improved cleaning routines on the ground.