Local authorities will continue ordering litterbugs to wear a special “monkey” vest because it takes drastic measures to fix the longstanding rubbish problem in Semporna, says District Officer Bianus Kontong.
Bianus thanked the public for their responses to the move, including those who criticised local authorities for instructing litterbugs to wear a vest embossed with the word “monyet” (monkey).
He said instead of completely removing the word, the Op Payung Bersepadu committee responsible for cleaning up the district has decided to “upgrade” the vest by including the image of a monkey, and the words, “Kerja amal mengutip sampah” (Collecting rubbish for charity).
“We want to send a message to everyone, including tourists and visitors, that we are serious about making Semporna trash-free.
“This move received many positive and negative responses, but it’s okay because we live here and we know the severity of this problem.
“We won’t budge on this matter,” he said at Seafest Hotel here on Monday (Jan 14).
Bianus said the committee tasked to clean up Semporna has set a key performance indicator (KPI) target of making the district trash-free by April this year.
He explained that 48 people have been penalised for littering since the programme started in November last year, including two tourists from China.
Of that number, 32 people opted to pay the RM100 fine, while the remaining 16 chose to do the “one-hour” clean up.
Bianus said the committee is mulling increasing the fine to RM500 and doubling the community service time to two hours, as well as introducing more “creative” penalties.
Home of the renowned diving haven of Pulau Sipadan, Semporna has always been under incessant fire from both international and local tourists, complaining about the poor sanitary conditions around the district and its small town.