SEMPORNA: The Semporna District Council will continue to order litterbugs to wear a special “monkey” vest after Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Jaujan Sambakong said it is inappropriate.
District Officer Bianus Kontong said that 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 during a speech at a meeting of public servants and Semporna district customary heads with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal here yesterday.
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 said two women from China were among 48 individuals who have been fined for littering in Semporna town areas.
The tourists, along with 32 other individuals, paid a RM100 fine on the spot after they were caught for the offence during ‘Ops Payung Bersepadu’.
“The remaining 16 offenders have chosen to do an hour of community service by picking litter while wearing a vest with the word ‘monyet’ (monkey) written on the back,” he said.
Bianus said chronic littering in Semporna have forced the district’s authorities to resort to more aggressive methods to curb the problem.
He added that the community service may be increased to two hours in the near future, while customary heads in Semporna district who are unable to handle the problem may be relieved of their position.
Jaujan, who is Deputy Chief Minister, described the use of ‘monkey’ as lack of dignity and suggested that the council could consider other words like ‘I will keep Semporna clean’.
He said a discussion would be held with district level committees to improve the wording.
Earlier, Bianus and Shafie surveyed the town areas of Semporna, which is targeting to be litter-free by April this year.
The Chief Minister last month launched a clean-up campaign and gave the council until March this year to clean up Semporna.