SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) is looking into prohibiting the use of any white substances for "hash" runs.
This comes after the Woodleigh MRT station security scare, where a suspicious white substance - which turned out to be baking flour - was left behind by a local running group to mark their trail.
Channel NewsAsia understands that NParks and the running groups are also looking into alternative markings such as ice cream sticks or plastic markers.
The Seletar Hash House Harriers, who were behind the "suspicious white substance" at Woodleigh MRT station, have apologised for the alarm and inconvenience caused.
The group said that three of their members were marking a trail near the station for a run using flour.
They chose the MRT underpass from Bidadari to Woodleigh Close as it was the safest route to cross Upper Serangoon Road.
NParks said it is currently working with these hash running groups to reduce the use of baking flour.
“Where 'hash runs' are allowed in NParks-managed areas, chalk and flour are prohibited as these substances are more difficult to clean up (and) might seep into and cause damage to the environment,” said NParks group director for conservation Wong Tuan Wah in a statement. “If consumed, these substances might have detrimental effect on wildlife.”
“Only toilet or tissue paper is allowed to be used as markings and they must be cleaned up immediately after the event. If they are not cleaned up, enforcement action could be taken,” added Mr Wong.
Under the Parks and Tree Act, members of the public who litter in Singapore parks and nature reserves may be fined up to S$5,000.
STREAMLINE RESPONSE PROCEDURES: ANALYST
On Tuesday, the baking flour incident triggered the closure of the MRT station for three hours. Another security scare involving an unattended bag at Hougang MRT station earlier this month caused the station to temporarily close.
One security expert said that authorities could look into streamlining their procedures to minimise the disruption to commuters.
"What they could have done maybe is determine first if it was bio-hazardous and if it's not, while investigations are still going on, they could just cordon off the area but ensure you resume some form of service to the MRT line,” said Nur Diyanah Anwar, a security expert from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
“I think three hours is disruptive on any measure and I think once they have ironed out the procedure that they should take, it should be shorter."