Mayor Datuk Roshidi Hashim seems to be satisfied that Ipoh need not necessarily be as clean as during the era of the Seenivasagam brothers.
He stressed that the area under the city council now is many times bigger than it was in the sixties. Hence on the basis of this, he added, there is no justification in comparing the cleanliness of Ipoh now with that during the Seenivasagam era. This was told to the residents of Kampung Tersusun Buntong during one of his “turun padang” (meet the people) programmes recently. The residents had complained about clogged drains, uncollected rubbish and problem with stray cattle.
Such a conclusion was not easily accepted by most residents. In fact some of them rang Ipoh Echo criticising Roshidi’s justification. They claimed that the Mayor was merely finding an excuse for the failures of the city council to keep a clean image of the city.
There is no doubt the city’s jurisdiction has expanded over the years but then so has the manpower in the city council. It is estimated that there are over 2,700 employees now compared to just a few hundred before Ipoh was upgraded from a municipality to a city 23 years ago. So, the manpower too is “many times” bigger.
The city council’s office had also moved from a congested complex at Jalan Tun Sambanthan to an impressive multi-storey complex at Dataran MBI in Greentown.
Therefore, if any fair comparison is to be made between then and now one must look at Taman D.R. Seenivasagam, which has not expanded ever since it was set up in 1970. It still covers an area of 14 hectares.
It was then a premier family recreation park. Despite just a handful of employees tasked to look after it, there were boating facilities at the artificial lake, as well as other facilities such as a ferris-wheel, merry-go-round, mini-train, dodgem cars, skating rink, traffic game and wading pool.
There was also a mini zoo with Seenivasagam’s pet honey bear as the centre of attraction and deer, while television sets were installed at various parts of the park and piped music streamed over the area. Every evening the park attendants, who were smartly dressed in orange tunics and blue trousers, were on duty directing traffic and maintaining the various facilities.
Parents would spend quality time with their children at the park at every opportunity they could get. It was a joy to see the children happily interacting and participating in the activities. Just ask those who grew up in the city in those days, and they will relate many happy memories of the Taman.
Now the number of employees maintaining the park is probably the same, if not more, yet the park has lost its glitter.
This is just an example; there are many other amenities within the city to which the city council needs to pay extra attention.
Giving the excuse that the city’s limit has enlarged as a justification for its failure to be efficient and to keep it clean will not hold water when the number of employees have also increased.
The city council should instead examine whether there is a need for greater supervision of the employees and whether they are dedicated in carrying out their tasks.
The city’s anti-dengue campaign too does not seem to be successful. Residents have been complaining that drains throughout the city are dirty.
However, much of the illegal rubbish dumps within the city have been cleared after they were highlighted by the press, including an ongoing campaign for cleanliness by Ipoh Echo.
I am surprised that the Mayor is now talking about his determination to bring back the city image as one of the cleanest in the country. Can he achieve it? Can he walk the talk? Of course he can, if he and the councillors and employees are determined to achieve the goal.