Deputy Chief Secretary Warner Cheuk on Saturday admitted inadequacies in the government hygiene efforts in the past and said the authorities would step up education to keep the city clean, adding that officials would review the penalty for littering.
He was responding to a media report of long-standing hygiene problems at locations like Causeway Bay Market and Chun Yeung Street market in North Point.
"We accept criticism. [Some places] have been hygiene black spots for 19 years... certainly it may be because cleaning work hasn't been done thoroughly and properly. But this also shows, on the other hand, those who litter haven't changed their habit," he said after speaking on a radio programme.
"So we in the [District Matters Co-ordination] Task Force will put an emphasis on education and publicity, which is one of our three tasks. We hope people will understand it's up to everyone to keep Hong Kong clean."
He said the government is preparing pamphlets for primary school and kindergarten students to nurture good hygiene practices.
The official is also leading a three-month campaign that starts on Sunday to tackle 600 hygiene black spots in the city.
He said he hoped people would notice that streets had become cleaner by October but government efforts to make Hong Kong a cleaner place would still continue.
Cheuk said during the three months, various departments would be asked to come up with performance indicators.
One of the indicators, he said, would be the rodent infestation rate in different districts. He said the authorities were working with the University of Hong Kong to come up with a new index formula that would reflect the seriousness of the rodent problem more accurately.
Cheuk added the government would review if the current HK$1,500 penalty for littering is effective, noting the mechanism had been in place since the early 2000s.
He said they would also assess the effectiveness of enforcement against restaurants that dispose of rubbish inappropriately.