The month of August has a special place in the hearts of many Singaporeans. It is the month where we celebrate our National Day.
But is National Day just about singing patriotic songs and donning red and white?
Throwback to 1965, where Singapore, a new and struggling nation, faced challenges such as high unemployment, economic uncertainty, poor sanitation, polluted waterways, and rubbish strewn streets.
It was due to the foresight of our founding fathers, and the hard work of our pioneer generation, that we were able to build our economy and jobs without compromising our environment. Today, we all proudly acknowledge that Singapore is amongst the most developed and cleanest cities in the world.
However, it was reported early this year that the National Environment Agency (NEA) has taken more than 1,000 enforcement actions against high rise littering in 2020, a 50 per cent jump from the previous year. We also recently saw the implementation of mandatory tray return at all hawker centres in June.
So, what happened? Are we still a clean city?
Armed with an army of over 59,000 cleaners, a relatively high cleaners-to-residents ratio in comparison with other cities of similar scale, we may have fallen into the trap of being overly reliant on cleaners to clean up after us. With so many cleaners around, it is inevitable that some Singaporeans came to regard cleaning up as someone else’s job.
When we are not inherently clean, no amount of cleaners can help keep us clean. A badly littered and dirty environment will attract pests, and this in turn, could present us with public health threats. A clean and hygienic environment is essential to healthy living.
The situation has been made even more pressing by the Covid-19 pandemic. Not only do cleaners have to do more cleaning now, they also have more critical job functions such as disinfecting high touch surface regularly. The stricter border controls also mean we have lesser cleaners to tap on now.
We can make a difference by picking up after ourselves and returning our trays whenever we dine in at hawker centres, food courts and coffeeshops.
We beamed with pride whenever our foreign friends commend us for being a clean and green city. Being clean has become part of our national identity and a source of our national pride.
To ensure that we continue live up to our reputation as one of the cleanest cities in the world, it is time for us to get our act together. Singapore is our home and keeping our home clean is our shared responsibility. Simple acts like binning our trash and returning our crockery after meals would suffice.
Let’s continue to show our love for Singapore by keeping her clean.