According to an interview aired on Channel News Asia last night — http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1179716/1/.html — the Public Hygience Council has suggested that people who don’t litter should tell off those who do, when they catch the culprits red-handed.
I can’t think of a wackier idea. Those who respond to the call are equally dumb. They aren’t brave souls but simply courting bad vibes — at minimum — and at the extreme, personal injury perhaps leading to death.
Whatever for? Unless one is a 160kg gorilla standing 3 metres tall, with muscles rippling to boot.
Those without such demanding physical attributes would do better to mind their own business. And look the other way. If they are truly so public spirited, then the best thing they can do is to pick up after the litter bug, quietly, not ostentatiously, so as not to incite confrontation.
When you tell someone off — even when the “telling off” is done nicely with a smile — you’ve no idea how the person would respond.
This is because the culprit would be put on the defensive immediately and chances are, a scowl would be the most common and least harmful reaction.
But suppose, the culprit happens to be the aggressive type. Or, if not, has had a bad day and is ready to explode. Or worse, a combo of both.
How does it benefit the public hygiene movement if a fight breaks out and someone is maimed or killed as a result of obeying the campaign’s message? Would the Council take care of the medical and consequential bills of those affected?
How would the Council feel if its encouragement to grassroots policing of litter bugs pushes a simple litter bug into committing a jailable offence?
I know of people who habitually tell others on MRT trains to give up their seats — not for themselves but for the frail, elderly and mums with babes in arms. I also know of others who tell off queue jumpers even when it’s not their immediate slot that’s been hi-jacked.
You may call them heroes and heroines. I won’t. At minimum such behaviour is attention seeking cloaked in public spiritedness.
Won’t I want someone, a stranger, whatever, to stand up for me when I am in trouble?
But not over a discarded piece of dirty tissue, a seat on the MRT or bus, or just one or two slots in the pay-out queue, for heavens sake!