In view of the escalating number of dengue cases in Taman Cempaka, Ipoh City Council took the initiative to do a clean-up of areas identified as aedes hot spots. The cleaning exercise was conducted ala Malaysian style – gotong royong.
This time-tested method is something peculiar to the country, as it requires the involvement of every citizen. It is deemed appropriate as the job of clearing, cleaning and washing are done collectively, true to spirit of oneness regardless of one’s creed or belief. It is the Malaysian way of doing things and it has been going on for years.
But at Taman Cempaka, that bright Saturday morning on June 27, it was a different story. The 300-odd Council workers who gathered at the playing field found to their dismay that they were the only ones present minus the residents. What had become of their other half? What had become of those who were so vocal about Taman Cempaka being a mosquito-infested area on the brink of a major catastrophe? Not a single soul was around.
Not wanting to waste time the gotong royong proceeded as planned without the residents. It was most discouraging. The presence of Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, the Executive Councillor for Health, Transportation and Non-Islamic Affairs, was of no consequence, as it did not motivate the common folks to come out in droves.
Apathy and indifference are the reasons for the lack of participation from the residents. Most have come to assume that the job of cleaning their housing estates rests with the local authorities they are beholding to.
Council Secretary, Mohd Zakuan Zakaria, who was present to supervise the gotong royong, was terribly disappointed by the turn-out. He had expected some participation from the residents not a total no-show.
“Their attitude is uncalled for. In spite of the Council having warned them of the gotong royong via flyers, notices and loudspeakers, they failed to show up. Cleanliness is not the responsibility of the Council alone, residents have to chip in to make it a collective responsibility,” he told reporters.
This scenario, apparently, is not something new. It has been repeated at numerous gotong royong in and around the city. Will Ipohites ever learn?