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Friday, October 21, 2016

MALAYSIANS AND LITTERING – A NEVER-ENDING STORY

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Stop making excuses and blaming others when you are clearly nurturing a bad habit based on the ignorance of your own mistakes and pure self-centred attitude.
Syareen Majelan, The Malaysian Digest
Malaysians, why are you such litterbugs?
Before anyone comes after me with pitchforks over that statement, I’m not blaming you, good reader, because I know you are among the few that want to keep our country clean and get irked if you see people littering, however you seem to be far outnumbered by those who don’t.
And let’s face it, it has been a problem here in Malaysia since time immemorial − despite awareness campaigns, slogans and such − the situation does not seem to have improved, which prompted me to revisit this aggravating issue.
I wonder, is it too much to ask to be able to drive or walk around without seeing rubbish on the roads, roadsides, or flying towards you?
As someone who gets ticked off when seeing people littering, the following can be considered my open letter to Malaysian litterbugs out there, with hopes that it would move some, to think twice before littering.
Your Rubbish Is Not Your Responsibility, But Other’s?
“There weren’t many bins in the mall and I didn’t want to hold onto my empty cup until I found one. But I didn’t litter, I put my cup nicely in a corner for the cleaners to pick up.”
“I am putting it nicely here (in the parking lot) and not simply throwing it on the floor.”
“I sometimes throw the tissue I used on the floor (in parking lots) right before I get into my car because there weren’t any bins around.”
These were some confessions from litter offenders and it was quite baffling to hear, especially the reasons they gave to defend their actions.
It doesn’t matter whether you placed your rubbish ‘nicely’ or not, once you leave it anywhere other than in a bin (where it should be), it’s littering.
And while these offenders feel they provided ‘good’ reasons for leaving their rubbish around, sometimes you would witness people littering right in front of you, leaving you bewildered as to why they do it especially when the bins are within sight.
For illustration purpose only. FilePic: people,cnFor illustration purpose only. FilePic: people,cn
I personally witnessed a McDonald’s patron throwing an empty drink cup out their window right before they pulled out to leave the compound. The bin was literally a few steps away from their car.
Apparently, this is quite a common occurrence at McDonald’s, judging from people’s reaction when I told them of the incident.
The sad thing is that it was done in full view of those who I assume were their children and this sets a bad example for them. If you don’t act responsibly, what can we say when they start to act the same?
Apart from adding unwanted decorations in the surrounding area and become an eyesore, these excruciatingly inconsiderate actions could also endanger others.
“I was driving along Penchala Link when a can suddenly came flying from the car in front of me and hit my windscreen.
“Although it only resulted in a small scratch, the sudden appearance of the projectile shocked me since I was concentrating on the road. I was lucky nothing worse happened,” an irate driver shared her experience.
It is understandable that nobody likes their car to be messy with empty cans or other kinds of rubbish but is it worth risking other people’s lives just because you couldn’t hold on to your own responsibility?
Sure, Blame It On The Lack Of Rubbish Bins?
As littering on roads and parking lots seem to be so common, I decided to visit public recreational spaces to see whether the situation is the same.
I swung by Taman Layang-Layang in Kepong and was surprised with what I found, seeing that it is a popular place for those living nearby.
Families, friends and lone individuals flock to the park to fly kites, have picnics, walk, run, cycle or to simply enjoy the scenery.
Overall, the place was relatively clean as the park has provided its visitors with more than ample amounts of bins, with one being several steps away from the previous one.
However, some ‘clueless’ individuals still can’t grasp how to use the provided bins properly as they left their rubbish at the gazebos, that each has been placed with a bin, by conveniently chucking their rubbish on top of the bins or scattering them on the ground, around the bins.
And as if blinded by the readily available bins everywhere, somehow the lake becomes a dumpster. Instead viewing a calming sight of a nice pool of water, water bottles and polystyrene containers are seen ‘swimming’ and ‘sunbathing’ on its rocky edges.
It does make me wonder though − was the cleanliness a result of visitors being responsible over their trash, or did it involve the park’s caretakers cleaning up after them?
Unfortunately, I didn’t see any caretakers around to clarify this but I believe that the visitors are responsible and considerate enough to take care of the space that is shared with many others.
While parks are relatively clean, playgrounds on the other hand are a stark contrast − the ones that I went to were completely filthy.
Mind my exaggeration, just a little, but a lot of rubbish in fact, could be seen strewn around the playground.
My observation led me to the conclusion that, what I witnessed here, was a situational condition that resulted from insufficient bins at the playgrounds. This only leaves playground-goers no choice but to throw their rubbish on the ground or into the drain.
As much as I believe people should hold on to their rubbish and avoid littering on the playgrounds, I wonder could this be improved if the city and municipal council step in to do spot-checks and provide adequate bins there?
But Really, It Starts From Home
All this talk about littering also got me marvelling the fact that with Malaysia recently winning ‘Asia’s Leading Destination’ award – is this the state of our country we really want to present our visitors with?
So, what needs to be done to remedy the situation?
First off, stop pointing fingers and placing the blame on the government because an eyesore such as this stems from the people themselves, and while the government may have not been entirely successful, they are constantly trying their best to solve this problem.
Next, you may not be able to control the actions of the government which you accuse of being inefficient, but what have you, yourself, done?
Look at yourselves, and ask what are you teaching your kids? That it’s OK to chuck rubbish as they please because someone is paid to clean up after them? It’s OK to endanger someone else’s life on the road and throw rubbish out of your moving car – so you can keep your car clean?
Quite contrary to one who understands the meaning of ‘cleanliness’, if you ask me. To those who are guilty of such actions, have you ever thought about being more responsible, ethical, and considerate?
Stop making excuses and blaming others when you are clearly nurturing a bad habit based on the ignorance of your own mistakes and pure self-centred attitude.
At the end of the day, every Malaysian should manage their own rubbish and inculcate a sense of responsibility in their young ones, so they know it’s their civic duty to properly dispose their rubbish.
A few months ago, two expatriates came in the spotlight for picking up rubbish in the neighbourhood they live in. They are a shining example of what everyone should be like.
“Despite being expatriates in this neighbourhood, and coming from different backgrounds and religious beliefs, it’s been our principle in life to always be kind to others.
“This is just our small contribution to our neighbours to keep the neighbourhood clean besides helping ease the job of the garbage collectors,” explained Michael Joseph, 63, and Tammy Sue, 58, who spend around 45 minutes of their time to pick up residents’ litter at their neighbourhood park every Mondays and Thursdays.
“For us, it’s really just a small contribution, but it may look big because we are ‘Mat Salleh’,” Tammy said.
If expatriates can appreciate our country that they are currently calling their home, why can’t we Malaysians do the same?

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