Officials must get tough with irresponsible beach litter louts

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 12:00am

I saw the remains of a battle on Sunday morning and the utter devastation was gruesome.

The war zone was a small, rocky beach near Stanley called Hairpin beach. On Saturday night moon-gazing party-goers trashed it completely by leaving behind a think carpet of rubbish, over the whole stretch of the beach. It was shocking and sad to see.

There must have been many party-goers on Hong Kong's beaches on Saturday night. I am sure the government could give a fuller picture of what was collected from our beaches and barbecue sites on the morning of September 22.

When I passed by Hairpin beach during my run at 10.30 on Sunday morning, many government-contracted cleaners were working hard to clear up the mess. Even the lifeguards were helping out. They told me they had started at about 7am and estimated they would finish the clean-up by the next day.

The damage done by the revellers was serious. The tide was already taking rubbish out to sea, which would be brought back by the high tide. Lighters, candles, bottles, scraps of meat and bones, unfinished packages of sausages and chicken wings, lumps of coal, chopsticks, plastic forks and spoons and plastic bags, were already getting embedded in cracks between the rocks, making them hard to pick up. Hundreds of used and new metal barbecue forks were just left on the beach. I found several covered by the sand, posing a danger to swimmers who might step on them.

According to the lifeguards, most of the people on the beach on Saturday night were rowdy youngsters who wanted to party. The police were out in force throughout Stanley to maintain order. At the height of the evening, the lifeguards reckoned there was standing room only. A downpour starting at about 1.30am dispersed the crowd.

The lifeguards know the pattern of littering, as do the police and the cleaners. They are aware that people come to party during public holidays. Since we can anticipate these events, the government should use the next occasion to send a strong message. It should launch a public advertising blitz in the weeks beforehand warning people that officers will be out in force to impose $600 littering fines. The administration must use maximum force to enforce the law so that, for once, people take the government's clean-up efforts seriously. It should be planned by officials like a military exercise. It is ironic that people enjoy the wonders of nature such as watching a full moon and at the same time trash the environment.

It is time for us to deal seriously with these regular occurrences.


Chief Executive Officer

Civic Exchange