Home TA Online Moral decline in the city: A first-hand account of everyday misdeeds

Moral decline in the city: A first-hand account of everyday misdeeds


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A deficit of ethics is personified when people have little or no moral rectitude.

Those who lack conscience do whatever they want, disregarding the negative impact their actions have on society.

When I notice unpleasant or nauseating habits, I often reflect on the attitude of the people in our land.

Regrettably, I have witnessed a steady decline in ethical values, which should have been inculcated in everyone by their parents and in our schools.

Abuse of priority seats

Whenever possible, I use public transport to avoid traffic jams and the hassle of finding a parking bay.

The other day, I took the light rail transit from Bangsar to downtown Kuala Lumpur as usual.

In both directions, the trains were full. On board the train, I deliberately stood in front of the “priority seats”, which were occupied by younger commuters.

But none of them offered me their seat. They looked busy on their mobile phones or pretended I was not there.

To me, it only reflected their poor parental upbringing and their lack of decent values.

Flouting of traffic laws

Many motorists boldly flout traffic regulations without thinking that their despicable acts put other law-abiding road users at risk.

Wait at the traffic lights in front of Maybank in Jalan Maarof, Bangsar and you’ll find motorists making a U-turn despite a No U-turn signboard there.

Food delivery drivers dash recklessly from the corner at McDonald’s, often almost hitting pedestrians like me who cross the road after patiently waiting for the pedestrian lights to flash.

Some irresponsible motorcyclists with no moral conscience endanger the lives of ordinary pedestrians.

Police and city enforcement officers often give tickets to cars parked along yellow lines and even on walkways.

This is ineffective. Many motorists blatantly disregard these tickets with a few even ripping them up. The next day, they continue to park in the same place.

The only way to deal with motorists who flout the law is to tow their cars away. Or charge them in court and give maximum media publicity to shame them.

Feeding of strays

Not a day goes by when I don’t see cat and dog droppings on the roads in Bangsar Park.

Some residents even tell their domestic workers to take the dogs to the back lanes of Bangsar Park to do their business.

Often people in our neighbourhood and in the city centre feed pigeons, assuming it to be a compassionate act.

I see people throwing food scraps for pigeons and cats in Lucky Garden in Bangsar Park and behind the Pasar Seni LRT station.

Health experts believe pigeon droppings and feathers are associated with respiratory diseases. Pigeon droppings are acidic and damage buildings and monuments.

Feeding pigeons not only harms them, but it also destroys their hunting instincts.

I have written to the council to erect signboards advising people not to feed pigeons and strays.

In Singapore, a 67-year-old man was fined 4,800 Singapore dollars in July 2023 for feeding pigeons. He threw pieces of bread on the pavement and grass verge and continued to do so on 15 other occasions, despite being warned.

Drastic action must be taken against those feeding pigeons and strays. Like Singapore, we should impose heavy fines.

Indiscriminate littering

The complete disregard for cleanliness in many areas is appalling and disgusting. People litter everywhere with no sense of conscience that such behaviour is reprehensible.

Sadly, I don’t see any signs placed by the local authorities to raise anti-littering awareness among the people. Signboards should be erected everywhere, prohibiting littering. Hefty fines should be imposed on litterbugs as a deterrent.

Even in a place like Bangsar Park, I witness people throwing rubbish into the drains in front of their houses.

Spreading of fake news

Fake news is rampant. Very often, such news items are damaging, especially if the news goes viral.

Decency is abandoned when individuals spread fake news without considering how their actions will harm others.

When decency and integrity have retreated, society will see a rise in deceit, lies and embezzlement.

Scammers galore

Scammers stole $1.0tn globally between August 2022 and August 2023, with victims in Singapore losing the most money on average.

The amount lost during this period was much higher than the $55.3bn lost in the whole of 2021 and the $47.8bn lost in 2020. This is according to a joint study by the non-profit Global Anti-Scam Alliance and data service provider ScamAdviser.

Scamming is also prevalent in Malaysia, with callers claiming they are from banks and even the police. So, convincing are they that they can hoodwink most people unless you keep alert.

When I received such calls, I tell the callers I am busy and will call them back. But when I return the calls, no one answers. I find this to be the most effective way to deal with scammers. If I am annoyed and disgusted, I tell them off in no uncertain terms and slam their despicable schemes.

Now, there is a new kid on the block: deepfakes. These are images or recordings that have been realistically altered to make it look like someone is saying or doing something that he or she has not actually said or done. Such deepfakes can cause tremendous damage.

Where are we heading if we are unable to instil ethical values in society and thus lose our moral compass as a nation?

Perhaps civics and the importance of integrity have to be included in the school curriculum from a young age.

We could learn from how Singapore has instilled decent values and discipline among its people. Stiff penalties are also imposed on those flouting the law, irrespective of their station in life.

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.

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Benedict Lopez
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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1 Jul 2024 6.41am

You seem to be on a crusade. Yes, these are issues. Are they also symptoms of a deeper issue.
People are struggling and resorting to: acting out or breaking the laws our civilisation is built on, to get by.
It’s easy to do the right thing when your tummy is full and you have enough to get by.

Recent inflation has pushed more people off the treadmill, which is our financial system. The sad thing is that many of these people think its their fault. Not knowing that their fall was decided on 40 years ago.
I have met a few that carried the guilt and, in most cases, lifted their burden by explaining how the financial system deliberately throws them into bankruptcy or debt in order to save itself.

Gursharan Singh
Gursharan Singh
30 Jun 2024 8.34pm

Agreed and below are my views.

Young not offering seats to seniors may be due to rejection when seat offered to seniors. View based on personal observation

Traffic offences continue as enforcement and penalties not deterrent and continuation of Discount Culture which cultures may be perceived to cover inefficiencies of some enforcement officials and or due to misplaced sympathies.
Feeding of strays and litter bugs may be due more to poor enforcement and non deterrent penalties besides and taking dogs out to do their business reflects poorly on Bangsar residents most of whom are financially rich but mentally poor though highly literate and not necessarily educated and thus poor consideration for others. Etc
Bless all

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