KOTA KINABALU: Pay a fine of RM500 or clean up – this is the clear message being sent out to litterbugs in Sabah’s “dirtiest” Semporna, home to the world-renowned diving haven of Sipadan.
Litterbugs are opting to do the “one-hour” clean-up instead of paying the fine as massive integrated enforcement operations involving the local council and police began on Friday to keep the town clean.
As of 3pm yesterday, nine litterbugs were caught and ordered to wear a special vest with the words “monyet” (monkey) embossed on it, which is in line with the council’s anti-litter theme which states that only monkeys throw rubbish indiscriminately.
An all out war against litterbugs in this town, which sees thousands of tourists heading for the various world-class diving sites annually, came into full force on Jan 1 on the orders of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Semporna District Officer Bianus Kontong said those involved in littering were a mix of Malaysians and foreigners without valid travel documents.
“We give them a choice to pay the RM500 fine or carry out community service for an hour,” he said, adding that all could not pay the fine and opted to do community service by cleaning up specific areas.
He said those without travel documents were taken by the police and were referred to the Immigration Department for further action.
Since starting the clean-up and awareness campaign last month following the launch by Mohd Shafie, Bianus said that there was greater awareness among the town residents, who were now more conscious about ensuring rubbish is thrown only at designated areas.
He said over the next three Sundays beginning today, they will be holding gotong-royong or clean-up campaigns at three water villagers – Kampung Air, Kampung Simunul and Kampung Bangau Bangau – to kickstart the anti-litter campaign.
Bianus said that the three villages were adjacent to the town area and the residents would have to make the effort to keep it clean after the gotong-royong.