Assoc Prof Daniel Goh Pei Siong asked the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (a) what are the immediate plans for appointing community volunteers as auxiliary officers to assist NEA in performing its functions; (b) what enforcement powers will be given to the volunteers; and (c) how many volunteers will be deployed and for what purposes
Mr Masagos Zulkifli B M M: The National Environment Agency (NEA) started the Community Volunteer (CV) Programme in 2013 to empower members of environment-related non-Government organisations (NGOs) to take on larger roles in strengthening public ownership of the environment. Since May 2016, individuals who are not members of any NGO but who meet the stringent selection criteria and fulfil the requisite training can also be appointed as a CV. There are currently about 380 CVs and about another 100 individuals have expressed interest to join the CV programme.
The role of the CV is to engage and educate environmental offenders to keep our environment clean as well as to inculcate greater community ownership of the environment. CVs are required to adopt specific geographical areas and lead by example to promote good social norms through participating in monthly environmental activities such as litter picking and educating environmental offenders within these adopted areas. The newly-appointed CVs are also required to be accompanied by NEA officers as part of their training to learn how to engage offenders.
As the primary role of the CVs is to encourage members of the public to take responsibility for the environment, the CVs will not be issuing enforcement tickets directly. The CVs will only use their authority card to request the particulars of a non-compliant offender for NEA’s investigations. NEA will then follow through with enforcement where necessary. With the passing of the National Environment Agency (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2016 earlier this year, the CVs will be provided with powers to request particulars from persons found to have committed environmental offences beyond littering, such as smoking in prohibited places, spitting, urinating or defecating in public places, failing to properly remove animal faecal matter from public places, as well as leaving the engine of a stationary vehicle to idle.
Through the CV programme, we hope that more people will learn to take ownership of the environment. After all, care for the environment is a shared responsibility and everyone needs to play a part in ensuring a clean and liveable Singapore.