Ice Man has the amazing ability to create ice. Since Singaporeans has the amazing ability to leave tonnes of rubbish behind, we should therefore be known as Rubbish People.
Why is it so hard for us to clean up after ourselves? As an article in Vulcan Post showed, Meadows by the Bay became Garbage Dump by the Bay after the recently concluded Laneway Festival.
[Image credit: Photos from Timothy Chua]
I am assuming that since Laneway Festival is an Indie music festival, the festival goers in Singapore are more likely to be young(ish) people whose dominant language is English. These people would, supposedly, more better educated. Whole fat load of good their education has done them if they haven’t even learnt to clean up after themselves.
“But not all the festival goers are Singaporeans!” Yes. That is probably true. There are likely to be some Ang Mohs at the festival too. So what? Assuming that ALL of those rubbish is left by foreigners (who are likely not to be from South Asia or PRC), can’t Singaporeans pick up the rubbish as they go?
“What?! Pick up rubbish that I didn’t leave behind?! Are you crazy?!” Why is that concept so crazy? A young Japanese boy was videoed doing just that in the Group E World Cup qualifier in June 2015. So why can’t Singaporeans do that? Why is it so hard for us to do that?
“Aiyoh… not that I want to litter la… But cannot find dustbin around!” So? Cannot hold your own rubbish with you until you find a place to throw it ah? Or better yet. Bring it home, sort your rubbish, then recycle! Cannot ah?
In all likelihood, most of the rubbish generated and left behind at the Laneway Festival is generated by young “educated” artsy-fartsy Singaporeans. Probably the same type of people who would clamour for human rights, active citizenry, stronger civil society, more arts and culture, and whatever have you. Yet, these people aren’t cultured enough to clean up after themselves. What a joke!
I can’t find more recent numbers. But in 2009, Singaporeans generated a whooping 527kg of rubbish per person per year. In comparison, Japan generated 421kg per person per year and South Korea generated 380kg per person per year. True, Singapore is much better off than Hong Kong, which generated 921kg per person per year in 2009. But we should look to those who have done better than us and aspire to improve, no?
Singapore isn’t a clean country. We are a cleaned country. Our cleanliness is an illusion maintained by the armies of foreign workers. Worse. Some of us look down on, humiliate, insult, disrespect these foreign workers. As if we are much better than them.
What can we do about this? We should fire all foreign workers cleaning our estates. Estate cleaning should be the responsibility of the people staying in the area. Only have workers to clear the rubbish dump area. And to do quarterly deep cleaning (e.g. water jetting).
Too drastic a move? Then let’s fire all the cleaners in schools. Let students be responsible for the cleanliness of the school. “What? My precious son doing such lowly work as cleaning?!” Yes ma’am. We are teaching your precious son important life skills and building his character through cleaning after himself. These are as important, if not more so, than the subjects taught in the classroom.
So. Before we even start talking about human rights, active citizenry, stronger civil society, more arts and culture, let’s first learn to clean up after ourselves. If we can’t even inculcate such a basic act of civic consciousness, it’s rubbish to think that we can aspire for anything else.