Amidst increasing world anxiety over pollution, one small industrial country has good reason to proclaim its foresight in introducing anti-pollution controls.
Amidst increasing world anxiety over pollution, one small industrial country has good reason to proclaim its foresight in introducing anti-pollution controls. Singapore's government-sponsored campaign, started more than a year ago in the city itself, is being intensified. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Kew has ordered even more stringent anti-pollution measures for the factories of the Jurong estate - the industrial heart of the island republic.
Singapore's anti-pollution measures are truly comprehensive. One of the most successful has been directed against litterbugs. Launched more than a year ago, with maximum fines up to 500 Singapore dollars (GBP 70 sterling), it has resulted in Singapore's becoming one of the cleanest cities in Asia. Anti-litter signs in English, Chinese and Malay warn that dropping even a cigarette butt in the streets can incur a fine of up to 100 dollars.
The campaign has had a marked success even in the most crowded back streets of Singapore's chinatown. Instead of emptying refuse into gutters and over roads, residents now use wicker baskets.
On the Jurong factory estate smoke and soot still gush from the chimneys of iron and steel mills, of plywood and cement works. But this will soon be a thing of the past. Developed on land reclaimed from swamps 12 miles from the city centre, Jurong's pollution affects comparatively few people initially, but with a population forecast of a quarter of a million in the foreseeable future, the prime Minister has announced vigorous and unrelenting anti-pollution measures. In a recent speech, Mr. Lee singled out the National Iron and Steel Mills - owned substantially by the Singapore Government - as the chief offender. The mill is now installing chimney extractors to suck out soot and dirt. He gave a pledge to stamp out pollution in Jurong and make it what he termed "a town that those who live and work in can be proud of."
In this crowded island of two million people, traffic pollution particularly in the city centre, is the major problem. There are more than 20,000 diesel vehicles in Singapore, including all the country's taxis - all capable of churning out thick black smoke. As a result of a Government campaign launched early this year, nearly ten thousand vehicles were booked by traffic police for smoky exhausts in a period of two months.
All diesel vehicles must now undergo an official smoke test when renewing their registration at a Government test centre. If they fail the test, the registration certificate is not renewed. Taxis called in were required to pass the test before being allowed to charge the higher fares agreed by the Government.
In tackling its pollution problems, Singapore has gone further than most other countries, by helping nature to convert stale, polluted air into breathable oxygen. Four months ago the government launched a 'Make Singapore Beautiful" campaign and urged people to plant as many flowers, bushes and trees as possible. roads, tiny back gardens and the balconies on towering multi-storey flats have been beautified in a campaign which will not only help to combat pollution, but will also add to Singapore's tourist attraction as being among the most pleasant cities in Asia.