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Curb nauseating behaviour among city dwellers

People in Malaysia should be instilled with civic values the same way their counterparts in Singapore are

The aftermath of new year eve celebrations around Kuala Lumpur shared by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall — KL CITY HALL/FACEBOOK

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Shameful, disgraceful and appalling are apt words to use when we witness how some members of the public defile Kuala Lumpur’s environment.

Some city dwellers think they can litter the place and it is the duty of Kuala Lumpur City Hall workers to clear up their mess the next day.

When such things happen, I can only conclude their behaviour is a pathetic reflection of their upbringing.

Sadly, our education system must share the blame. It has not moulded our students to be civic-minded with noble values to care for their surroundings. Perhaps it is time to make civics a mandatory subject in schools.

People don’t realise how littering can erode our environment, endanger wildlife and the damage the economy. Besides polluting our neighbourhoods and the health hazards it poses, littering destroys KL’s natural beauty.

Don’t these people who indiscriminately litter our city have any sense of concern and feeling for our city?

City hall in a Facebook posting has called on the public to pick up their own rubbish. The local authority shared some photos of the aftermath of New Year’s Eve celebrations which saw the streets of the city marred by litter.

The photos taken around Bukit Bintang and Dataran Merdeka showed water bottles, plastic bags, party string spray cans and food packages spoiling the streetscape. One photo showed a carton of mineral bottles left on the side of the street.

Still with the “third-class mentality”, read the caption for the images.

Not an auspicious start to the year for KL. As usual, some members of the public showed blatant disregard for their surroundings. They still do not believe that cleanliness is a virtue.

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People who dirty public places obviously lack moral rectitude and self-respect. Nobody with a little grey matter upstairs and a sense of decency and dignity would indulge in such despicable behaviour.

How can we compare KL with other beautiful cities when we have people behaving like this? Obviously, they have not watched Japan playing at the last World Cup. The sight of Japanese fans at a World Cup picking up rubbish from the stadium and putting them into rubbish bag after a match – win or lose -always startles fans from other nations.  

Japanese players are well-known for doing the same in their team dressing room: hanging up towels, cleaning the floor and even leaving a thank-you note.

Public service efficiency and a high level of civic consciousness hinge on three principles – engineering, education and enforcement.

To curb littering, consider the following measures:

  1. Place CCTV cameras at strategic places to nab litterbugs
  2. Undertake a blitz in the print and electronic media about the importance of a clean environment
  3. Place “No littering” signs in conspicuous locations in the city
  4. Place more rubbish bins in various parts of the city
  5. Prosecute litterbugs with stiff penalties
  6. Get schools to teach civics and ethical practices to their students

There is no alternative solution other than to send a strong message to litterbugs.

Littering is not the only predicament facing KL. Drivers violating traffic regulations are another peril in the city. It is common to see motorists not only parking on yellow lines but also double parking.

Even residential areas are not spared. Bangsar Park, where I reside, is a prime example. Just drive along Lorong Maarof 1 on any working day and you will see cars parked not only on double lines but also along pedestrian walkways.

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Cars parked on the yellow lines at the intersection of Jalan Limau Manis Lorong Maarof 1, Bnagsar Park. This causes inconvenience to cars and buses turning from Jalan Limau Manis into Lorong Maarof 1 – BENEDICT LOPEZ/ALIRAN

Motorists also park their vehicles indiscriminately on the yellow lines at the intersection of Jalan Limau Manis and Jalan Limau Nipis with Lorong Maarof 1. The major problem arises when buses coming from Jalan Limau Manis find it difficult to negotiate the corner into Lorong Maarof 1.

In all fairness, I have to say that I have seen city hall enforcement officers issuing tickets to vehicles flouting the law. But the offences are repeated daily. Some of these lawbreakers even have the audacity to tear away the tickets issued. I have seen it with my own eyes.

Enforcement officers should take drastic measures like towing the cars away. This will surely deter irresponsible motorists.

My wish for 2024 is for Kuala Lumpur City Hall to amend its by-laws to go down hard on littering and traffic offenders.

The local authority should also make it mandatory for public and private premises to have handrails on their steps. I have seen older people slipping and falling in places where there are only three steps.

On 4 January, I was on a bus returning to Bangsar from town when it stopped at a school in Bangsar at 13:15.

About 30 schoolchildren boarded the bus. I was shocked at the way they were behaving once on the bus.

A woman seated nearby told them to behave and advised the prefect to discipline them, to which she remained silent.

The woman then told the schoolchildren that she was recording their misbehaviour on her mobile and would send it to the principal of the school. Only then did they stop their misbehaviour.

READ MORE:  Making streets walkable and safe is something long overdue

People in Malaysia should be instilled with civic values the same way their counterparts in Singapore are. The island republic is an exemplar of how a country has instilled a sense of discipline, standards of behaviour and morality in its people.

Surely, we can emulate the positive attributes of our neighbours. It is not too difficult if it starts at home and in our schools.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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