Singapore cracks down on killer litter
July 18, 2000
SINGAPORE, where most people live in high-rise flats, is cracking down on residents throwing litter -- from bicyles to coffee mugs -- that maim or kill.
National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said in the Straits Times today the government would strictly enforce a law to repossess the apartments of those found guilty of hurling killer-litter.
His remarks has sparked a debate, following concerns that taking back flats was too harsh because it punishes the entire family for the act of just one member. Most Singaporeans live in government-built housing.
Mah said a government campaign to educate residents apparently failed because of a series of incidents this year, including the death of a five-year-old girl in April after being hit by a hurtling flower pot.
"When our words fall on deaf ears, it would be totally irresponsible for the HDB (Housing Development Board) not to react and do something to minimise the chances of someone getting hurt or killed," he said.
"The punishment is severe, I am not denying that. But it is harsh for the reason that we want to deter such offenders."
Litter throwing has been a problem in this island state, where 90 percent of three million people live in high-rise apartments, sometimes resulting in injury or death.
Court documents show offenders had hurled bicycles, television sets, flower pots, beer bottles, oven toasters and coffee mugs, among others, in a fits of rage or drunkenness.