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Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 16:01 GMT
Jail for 'dangerous durian' owner
Durian graphic
A man in Singapore has been sentenced to more than a year in jail after a bag of durian fruit dropped from his balcony, nearly killing a building worker below, it has been reported.

The angry building worker called the police, but the culprit, Lai Kok Hoong, managed to dash downstairs, retrieve the five durians and disappear, the Straits Times reports.

Unfortunately for Lai, he was arrested two weeks later when caught stealing goods worth some US$130 from a shop.

And he was subsequently identified as the man with the dangerous durians.

Tasty but smelly

Lai is the latest victim of Singapore's tough "killer litter" laws that heavily penalise residents who throw rubbish out of their windows.

Singapore skyscrapers
High-rise blocks dominate the city's skyline

On Monday he was sentenced to 14 months in jail for acting negligently with the durians and for theft.

Durians - about the size of a football - are popular throughout south-east Asia for their rich flavour and creamy white flesh, notwithstanding their pungent smell and spikey surface.

The "killer litter" laws- introduced last September - are so called after a five-year-old girl was killed by a flower pot that plummeted from a balcony the previous April.

Nearly 90% of Singapore's 3.2 million people live in public-housing tower blocks on the island, which is famed for its obsession with cleanliness and rules against chewing gum.

Recalcitrant offenders

One person who lost her home last year was 47-year-old widow Wong Sook Ying, a repeat offender who was sentenced to three months jail in July for throwing two flower pots and two pieces of tile out of her high-rise apartment.

A statement from Singapore's housing authority said "very serious or recalcitrant" offenders like Ms Wong would lose their apartments immediately and could not occupy public housing for the next five years.

Other offenders, including a woman who chucked out a microwave and a 65-year-old man who threw beer bottles out of his window after a drinking binge, were given six months to move.

They were banned for three years from public housing flats, except on the lowest floor of the building.

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20 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Singapore cracks down on 'killer litter'
25 Aug 98 | Asia-Pacific
Singapore's super-loos
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