Elderly Man Issued Warning For Not Returning Tray At Chinatown Complex, Says Unaware Of Rack’s Location

80-Year-Old Issued Warning For Not Returning Tray Says It Was His First Meal At Chinatown Complex

Earlier this week, the authorities said they would start taking down the particulars of those who don’t return their trays at public eateries.

This started on Thursday (1 June) and the authorities have already been taking action to prove they’re serious.

For instance, an elderly man was issued a written warning after failing to return his tray at Chinatown Complex.

The 80-year-old said he didn’t know where the tray return rack was.

4 NEA officers patrol Chinatown Complex on 1 June

Officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) were out in force at Chinatown Complex Food Centre on Thursday (1 June), the first day of the stricter stance, reported Lianhe Zaobao.

A total of four enforcement officers were seen on patrol at about 12pm, according to a reporter from the paper who visited the place.

They were dressed in plain clothes and would show their ID cards only when approaching diners.

During their communications with diners, they will also turn on their body cameras to record the process.

Those suspected of not returning tray may get warning

Zaobao observed that the officers would pay close attention to diners who were about to finish their meals.

Upon seeing someone suspected of leaving their seat without returning their tray, they’ll come forward to talk to them. Officers may then issue a warning.

Perhaps due to this, almost all the diners at the food centre were seen returning their trays obediently.

They also cleared the rubbish on their table, including used tissue and uneaten food.

Elderly man issued warning for not returning tray

However, at least one person failed to return his tableware to the rack after eating.

The elderly diner, named only as Mr Huang (transliterated from Mandarin), received a written warning since this was his first time breaking the rules.

The paper slip clearly stated that his offence was leaving his bowl, plate and chopsticks behind at a public dining place.

This was an offence under the Environmental Public Health Act 1987, it said.

Source: Shin Min Daily News on Facebook

It also detailed the location of his offence and even his table number.

The stern warning was also for him to refrain from criminal conduct in future, or else “the same leniency may not be shown”.

Officers also recorded his personal particulars.

Elderly man says he didn’t know where rack was

Speaking to Zaobao, Mr Huang said he would usually return his tray when eating in Ang Mo Kio.

However, this was his first time eating at Chinatown Complex so he didn’t know where the tray return rack was, he added.

He also claimed to have seen others not returning their tableware, so he thought it was okay not to do so.

Unexpectedly, an enforcement officer approached just as he got up to leave.

After this experience, he will avoid eating here again, he stated.

Officers will judge whether elderly diners are able to return trays

There might be concern over some elderly diners who may not be able to return their trays.

To that, enforcement officer Zheng Huizhuang (transliterated from Mandarin) said they would judge whether an elderly person has the ability to return their tray by communicating with them first.

The 29-year-old said that for seniors with limited mobility, their dining companions or the cleaners will have to help them.

However, if officials ascertain that the person has the ability to return their tray, they will still take enforcement action.

Another law enforcement officer Xu Yuxiong (transliterated from Mandarin), explained how they may decide whether an elderly person is capable of returning their tray.

If they’re able to order food from a stall and bring their food to a table themselves, they should be capable of returning their tray, the 44-year-old said.

In the press release on 31 May, NEA said enforcement action won’t be taken against the frail elderly, less-abled or children who’re clearly unable to clear their tables.

Tray return rates at 90% and above

The authorities started taking action against those who litter tables at hawker centres back in September 2021.

Returning Of Trays At Hawker Centres Will Be Enforced From 1 Sep, Repeat Offenders Face Up To $2K Fine

In January last year, they expanded this regulation to apply to coffee shops and food courts.

Since then, the average Tray and Crockery Return Rate (TCRR) at hawker centres has increased to 91%. This is a significant increase from 65% in August 2021.

Similarly, the TCRR for coffee shops and food courts has been maintained at 90% since December 2022.

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Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily News on Facebook and Lianhe Zaobao.

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