Friday 30 January 2015

PM Lee calls for clean, not cleaned, city

PM reacts to meadow of trash that music fans left behind
Help S'pore progress from cleaned city to truly clean, he posts
By Rachel Chang, Assistant Political Editor, The Straits Times, 29 Jan 2015

REVELLERS at the Laneway music festival last weekend left a meadow of trash at the Gardens by the Bay, prompting Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to urge Singaporeans to pick up after themselves.

He posted a picture of the litter-strewn meadow taken last Saturday, contrasting the scene to a picture of a Myanmar football fan picking up litter after a match at the Singapore National Stadium last November.

"It takes continuous effort to keep Singapore clean. We need to progress from being a cleaned city to a truly clean city," he wrote on Facebook yesterday.

"All of us can play a part - picking up our own litter, educating our children and grandchildren, and reminding others to do the right thing."

Some of the 13,000 festival-goers said they assumed the organisers hired cleaners for the all-day event, while anti-littering advocates said the Laneway detritus was another example of a deep-seated societal problem.

Mr Liak Teng Lit, chairman of the Public Hygiene Council (PHC), said he has heard Singaporeans argue they are providing cleaners with jobs, an excuse he said was a self-justification.

"It is so easy to pick up after yourselves. The problem here is a selfish, take-things-for-granted ingrained mindset," he said.

A National Environment Agency survey in 2010 found that one-third of the respondents said they would litter if they could get away with it.

"It didn't occur to me to take my trash away when I left because there was trash everywhere left by others," said Mr Wei Chua, 28, a senior product manager who was at the 19-act festival from late afternoon until midnight. "So, it seemed like an understanding that the festival hired cleaners."

A standard ticket to the festival cost $165, a price that sales executive Ho Minwei assumed factored in cleaning costs.

"There is no way that a festival of this scale could leave the grounds spotless, so the cleaning fees should be built into the price of the ticket," said the 27-year-old.

Still, she is concerned about the littering problem in Singapore, and picks up trash in her Housing Board neighbourhood. "There is nothing I can do about the root cause, which is that people assume someone will take care of their litter," she said.

Mr Liak noted that Singapore has 70,000 cleaners for five million people, while a city such as Taipei has 5,000 cleaners for a population of three million.

On a recent work trip, a PHC delegation spoke to officials in Taipei, where schools do not hire cleaners, so students are taught from a young age to clean up after themselves, he said.

"They told us, cleaning is a part of education. It teaches the value of labour and that it is not shameful to sweat," said Mr Liak. "In Singapore, we have let things deteriorate until we now have a crisis of cleanliness."

Singapore becoming a 'garbage city' without foreign workers, says ESM Goh Chok Tong
By Chew Hui Min, The Straits Times, 29 Jan 2015

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called out festival goers for not picking up their litter, and asked Singaporeans to make Singapore a clean city rather than a "cleaned" one.

A day later, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong has taken to Facebook to do the same.

Comparing Tokyo and Singapore, he said that the Japanese capital had no rubbish bins in public places, but it is still litter free.

"Without foreign workers, Singapore is likely to become a 'garbage city'," Mr Goh said in the post.

Last Saturday, Meadows by the Bay was covered with discarded plastic ponchos, cups and other garbage after 13,000 festival goers attended the Laneway music festival there.

Post by TODAY.

Why turn beautiful city into garbage dump?

I WAS deeply dismayed to learn of the terrible mess left behind by concertgoers at the Laneway music festival last weekend ("PM reacts to meadow of trash that music fans left behind"; Thursday).

I hope this is not another "festival culture" we practise in Singapore.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's comments are a resounding reminder that our "clean and green" moniker is largely misplaced self-flattery.

For a nation celebrating its golden jubilee, it is an embarrassment that our people continue to display a marked lack of maturity in a behaviour that one would think should be easily shaped by common sense and decency.

In our homes, I reckon that few, if any, of us would consider leaving trash and leftovers strewn across the floor.

Are we turning our beautiful city into a garbage dump with impunity?

To allow our nation to become so unsightly is evidence of our lack of care and concern for our environment. Even worse, it reflects a total contempt for this nation that we call home.

Perhaps it is the simple concept of ownership and responsibility that we are failing to grasp.

If we feel responsible for a piece of rubbish, it is naturally our duty to see that it is disposed of properly. Many of our Asian neighbours do this, so why can't we?

Some of us continue to perpetuate an irresponsible reliance on cleaners - an often besieged lot (usually elderly or foreign), who already have enough to do without having to pick up every soiled tissue or half-eaten food packet left behind by people who could not care less about them or our shared environment.

Eugene Heng
Waterways Watch Society
ST Forum, 31 Jan 2015

Dish the dirt, you'll likely end up soiled
Online trolls expose their own sense of inferiority when they launch virulent attacks
By John Lui, The Sunday Times, 1 Feb 2015

Last week, rubbish left at a music festival caused us to wake up to the threat posed to the nation by rich white people.

It began with Facebook posts, by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, directed at behaviour we've lived with forever.

They mentioned littering at a music festival, and how we as a people have a way to go before we learn to show care and respect for public areas. It sparked an online ruckus.

These are reminders we have seen in the past, about the piles of garbage left behind whenever big groups gather, whether it is in Chinatown during Chinese New Year, or in Geylang Serai during Hari Raya Puasa, or in foodcourts and cinemas, or at the National Stadium after a game.

This time, however, the posts and news reports triggered a torrent of online conversations. The litterbugs in question were not your run-of-the-mill local specimens.

The alternative-music jamboree the Laneway Festival was the event in question, so the Internet's hatred targeting system locked on to the young people who left garbage on the grass. More specifically, the young, white, beer-swilling people with money, paying $140 and more to see edgy haircuts playing synthesisers.

Laneway's 13,000 ticket-holders embody everything a certain sector of society here loves to hate - foreign, boozed-up and moneyed, taking over a public park with their weird artsy music.

And now, these privileged few have the audacity to pollute our hallowed ground with their rubbish - it was a magic combination of traits that made writers on Facebook and in the alternative media lose their collective minds.

According to people at the event, only about half the crowd were white, but that did not matter. In the alternative media, Laneway was the gathering place of the devil's own Caucasian hipster invasion force.

They are the new Filipinos who want to organise Philippine Independence Day celebrations on Orchard Road. They are the new China workers who talk-shout on trains, the new domestic workers picnicking in public parks on their days off.

This time, though, the target of online rage is not a group from a lower social or economic class.

Laneway fans are probably richer, better educated and more well-travelled than members of the group their smugness had cheesed off.

The frenzy of hate, therefore, stems from an inferiority complex. More than anything, the purpose of trolling is to make targets feel as rotten as the trolls do about themselves.

Foreigners just can't win here. Everything they do - especially the things they do that annoy us - is attributed to race and nationality. If they annoy us and come from a less developed country? They're uncivilised! And if they come from a First World nation? Elites rubbing our noses in their status! It's the same sort of disgust heaped on rich Vancouver Chinese who build big houses; or when Asian kids in Australia are called "mindless drones" for doing well in exams.

If it is any consolation, it means that Singapore has joined in the growing global sport of moving the goalposts in endeavours the locals do worse in compared with recent arrivals. In that activity, I'm sure we're ranked in the global top 10.

Laneway fans turned out to be expert marksmen at shooting themselves in the foot.

Asked why their ponchos and cups ended up on the ground, their responses ranged from "it's what you do at festivals" to "the bins were full and too far away" and "clean-up is included in the ticket price", proving that wearing beanies and other ironic items of clothing restricts blood flow to the brain.

The famous Glastonbury Festival in England might be renowned for looking like a giant mud pit flecked with plastic detritus and drunk people, but I'm certain it would be a better experience without the muck; people do not flock there because they might get dysentery, they go in spite of it.

Fuji Rock, Japan's largest music festival, is 10 times larger than Laneway, but has a reputation for spotless grounds and - this is amazing to me - portaloos that do not punish you for owning a digestive system.

Filth is not a festival requirement. But if that is what Laneway folks want for a truly authentic festival experience, perhaps we can order in curated fake filth, the way we enjoy fake snow at Christmas. That would make it a truly Singapore experience.

Clean city? Singapore not there yet: Vivian
By Samantha Boh, The Straits Times, 2 Feb 2015

MINISTER for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan is the latest politician to take litterbugs to task.

This comes after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong referred to trash left behind at a music festival and urged people to pick up their litter, and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong took to Facebook to say that Singapore is likely to become a "garbage city" without foreign workers.

Addressing residents at a community event at Hong Kah North Community Centre yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said that how clean a place is reflects what people think of themselves, their respect for their neighbours and their concern for the neighbourhood.

"Our homes do not stop at the door but the common corridor. The community club, the street, the garden, the park, all that is our home," he said.

"And if we do not mess up our own homes, then surely our streets, our clubs, our gardens must not be messed up."

He said this philosophy was brought up decades ago, in a 1964 speech by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. Yet 50 years on, Singapore has "not yet arrived".

Last year, the National Environment Agency (NEA) issued 19,000 littering tickets, double that of 2013, in part due to stepped-up enforcement efforts. And Dr Balakrishnan said that the NEA is committed to stepping up enforcement further.

Singaporeans "must not be afraid to stand up and remind people to keep our homes, our neighbourhoods, clean and do our part", he added.

Yesterday, he also launched the Recycle-A-Bulb Challenge @South West, a programme which aims to help needy residents save on their electricity bills by giving them energy-efficient light bulbs. One energy-efficient light bulb will be given to a needy family, in exchange for every old or used bulb. The programme aims to collect 50,000 such light bulbs over the next five years, which would amount to $3.7 million savings for 12,500 low-income families.

The project is co-organised by the NEA and supported by grassroots groups, ITE College West and corporate organisations such as Keppel Land International, Singapore Post and DBS.

Said the Mayor of South West District Low Yen Ling: "We hope that other than lightening the load of our needy families, this will also help our residents in South West adopt energy-efficient ethics."

If Queenstown has flies, they will fly into Tanglin

Singapore's war on littering began in earnest after then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew flagged the need to keep the city clean in late 1964. In October 1968, he launched the Keep Singapore Clean campaign, delivering a message that remains relevant today. This is an excerpt.
The Sunday Times, 1 Feb 2015

Everybody can see the point of a neat home, clean kitchen, clean food and healthy children. But responsibility stops too often on the doorstep.

This campaign marks the raising of our social targets. Not only our young in schools, but also our adults must learn new habits.

The whole of Singapore has been so intensively developed that there are now no more enclaves, no refuge for the wealthy who can live unaffected by the standards of the poor.

Even Tanglin, once upon a time surrounded by green spaces, today has Queenstown just a mile away as the crow flies. And if Queenstown has flies and mosquitoes, they will fly into Tanglin.

Singapore has become one home, one garden, for all of us. And the way any neighbour soils his home and breeds flies and mosquitoes has become your personal business.

As standards of social behaviour rise, so social pressures will increase against anti-social behaviour of the unthinking or the incorrigible.

The road shall not be littered. Drains are not dumping grounds for refuse. The public park is your own garden, and must be kept spruce and green for your own and everybody else's enjoyment. Lifts, staircases, passageways of either homes or offices are extensions of the home.

Everybody can learn and acquire the habit of treating common user areas as one's own home, to be kept clean and maintained. And new laws have been passed to assist in inculcating these new habits even on the erring few.

We have built, we have progressed. But no other hallmark of success will be more distinctive than that of achieving our position as the cleanest and greenest city in South Asia.

For only a people with high social and educational standards can maintain a clean and green city.

It requires organisation to keep the community cleaned and trimmed particularly when the population has a density of 8,500 persons per square mile. And it requires a people conscious of their responsibilities, not just to their own families, but also to their neighbours and all others in the community who will be affected by their thoughtless anti-social behaviour.

Only a people proud of their community performance, feeling for the well-being of their fellow citizens, can keep up high personal and public standards of hygiene...

The message to keep Singapore clean has been allowed to percolate for several months. We are making one special effort at exhortation. Then we shall be enforcing the discipline on those who do not respond to social suasion.

We shall establish better conditions of community living - norms which will make for a pleasanter, healthier and better life for all.

These standards will keep morale high, sickness rate low, and so create the necessary social conditions for higher economic growth in industry and in tourism.

This will contribute to the public good, and in the end to everyone's personal benefit.

* Laneway Festival 2016 *

Gardens by the Bay was left litter-filled again on Saturday night after the Laneway Festival, a sight similar to last...
Posted by The New Paper on Sunday, January 31, 2016

Litter problem, big headache

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