Stop killer littering

Two children in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, tossed bricks from the top of a 32-storey apartment block.

Eastday.com recently reported that two children in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, tossed bricks from the top of a 32-storey apartment block.

Terrified residents dashed to the rooftop and stopped them before anything irreparable happened. The kids’ mother was summoned at once. However, instead of strictly disciplining the kids, the mother urged the crowd not to frighten her darling sons.

Littering from high is a big threat lurking overhead. Any free-falling object, from a thumb-size pebble, to a bottle hurled in rage, can be lethal to passersby. Maybe this is why such rash acts are called “killer littering” in Singapore.

According to China’s law, if any damage is caused due to the fall or drop of objects from a building, all residents of that building can be held liable unless there’s evidence to suggest his/her innocence. If casualties occur, the perpetrator can face criminal charges.

But all these apply only when the harm is already done. No penalties can be meted out when there’s no substantial damage, like what happened in the aforementioned case.

Also, there are no deterrent measures to prevent killer littering in the first place. It is commonsense that in such cases prevention is the key.

In Singapore, for instance, placing objects in a hazardous manner is already an offence before anything bad happens.

Putting flower pots on the window ledge, or hanging bird cages above balconies, can mean a maximum penalty of S$2,000 (US$1,467).

If the object is not removed later on, one could be fined S$100 per day as long as the offence continues.

If convicted of throwing litter from a great height, a person can be jailed for up to 6 months even if there are no casualties, and one’s rental flat can be compulsorily acquired by Singapore’s Housing and Development Board.

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