Dato’ Roshidi Hashim was reported to have admitted that he had failed as the Mayor of Ipoh for being unable to keep the city clean.
I accept his admission at the last City Council’s full-board meeting, but I cannot accept his excuse that his failure was solely because the people could not be disciplined and refrained from throwing rubbish indiscriminately.
Does this mean that he and his successors are going to just accept the situation as “whatever will be, will be” and blame it all on the attitude of the residents? Dato’ Roshidi’s failure is largely due to the City Council’s lack of determination to restore the city’s lost image as one of the cleanest in the country.
The City Council needs to lead by example. If it failed in carrying out its responsibilities, then it can expect the residents to also adopt a “tidak-apa” attitude and discard their wastes indiscriminately and readily blame the City Council for its poor services.
After all, preventing wastes from being indiscriminately discarded is only part of the overall efforts needed to keep the city clean. Clogged drains need clearing, rubbish collected efficiently, grass cut regularly, care of plants and shrubs along streets and roads, and proper maintenance of public parks and attractions. Every household in the city too must be directed to place all their domestic wastes in rubbish bins, not in plastic bags hanging on fences and trees, only to be scattered by dogs, cats and cattle. These are among the ingredients of a clean city.
Are all these not the responsibilities of the City Council? If so, would not the poor service we are experiencing now reflect on the efficiency of the City Council? Then why just put the blame on the people?
How is it that over two decades ago Ipoh was clean when it was just a municipality, but not now? The argument often put forward is that the city limit had increased in size, but let’s not forget that as the city grew, so did its manpower and budget.
Of course, the residents too are to be blamed for the thousands of illegal rubbish dumps scattered around the city. Their lack of cooperation is frustrating the City Council’s effort to clear the illegal dumps. The moment an illegal dump is cleared, a new dump begins.
One of the main culprits is the operators of small lorries for hire. They are the ones who cart the wastes and dump them at the nearest place convenient to them. Therefore, the City Council should consider taking stern action, including sending plainclothes enforcement officers to catch those responsible for throwing wastes indiscriminately. The City Council has the power to enforce the various enactments pertaining to health and cleanliness in the city.
It should not allow any “political constraints” to affect its efforts to keep the city clean. Those irresponsible residents will have to be prosecuted since attempts to discipline them into restraining from littering and illegal dumping of wastes had failed.
The City Council must bring those guilty of illegal dumping to court to show that it means business.
Ipoh Echo had in 2010 launched a “dirt vigilante” campaign calling on residents to report, with photographs, areas found to be filthy. Following this, the City Council had moved in to clear hundreds of illegal dumps, particularly in the Gunung Rapat area.
Of late, the City Council seems to be taking it easy. Not only the city is getting dirtier, cattle and buffaloes are reappearing in the city. They are endangering motorists at night and damaging plants in the housing estates.
Ipoh City Council held a farewell party for a delegation of eight to Fukuoka, Japan, Ipoh’s sister city recently. Under this Asian-Pacific Children’s Convention (APCC) Invitation Project, four pupils aged 11 and 12 from schools in Ipoh were selected to be junior ambassadors. They were joined by two peace ambassadors from the Bridge Club of Ipoh and two liaison officers from the city council.
The delegation will be in Fukuoka for ten days beginning July 12 to 22. Prior to their departure, the four, Sundesh Supparamaniam from SK Cator Avenue, Chew Khai Xing of SJK(C) Sam Tet, Siti Nur Syazwani Adam of SK Tarsician Convent and Pridhashrie a/p Nanda Kumar from SJK(C) Ave Maria Convent, attended Japanese language classes and cultural dance practices three times weekly for six weeks.
They were briefed on their roles as Ipoh junior ambassadors. Upon their return they are encouraged to be active in the city’s Bridge Club. Membership to the club is limited to participants of APCC missions from Ipoh.
The objective of APCC is to create “global citizens” true to its motto, “We are the BRIDGE: We connect dreams around the world.”
The purpose of my letter is to thank Ipoh City Council (MBI) for a job well done. After so much bashing from people who don’t lift a finger to help but only heap scorn, I hope my letter will help lift the Council’s morale a little.
On Monday, September 10 or thereabout, my neighbourhood was abuzz with news that a bee hive was growing in size on a mango tree nearby. I went out to have a look and my fear was confirmed. The bee hive was active and thus posed a danger to those living in the vicinity.
I was unsure what to do initially. After a few days, I decided it was time to act before someone got hurt. I went to the MBI website and emailed my complaint, as requested.
Days went by without any action from the council. On Friday, September 21, I alerted Ipoh Echo. I was told to call Major Roslan Zakaria (Rtd), the councillor responsible for Zone 15. I did as told. Roslan replied that remedial actions had been taken by the Council. I rushed out of my house to see and presto, the offending bees were no longer there.
I wish to make the following comments:
MBI website is not very user-friendly, as I have to look high and low for the “Aduan” bar.
Once a complaint has been filed there is no mention on the status of the complaint.
Residents are still unsure whom to call for actions.
Rubbish collection, on the whole, is excellent. My only complaint is the spillage caused by the workers. One other area which the council should focus on is the irregularity of garden refuse collection. The source of the problem, however, is the residents themselves. The fondness of some to turn the whole neighbourhood into one big rubbish dump is stupefying.
I don’t blame the council for all the wrongs that we see. I blame the people, as I have seen them throwing rubbish on roadsides and in the streets. We still have plenty to learn before we can be called a developed nation. Foremost, we need to change our mindset. For a start, stop blaming MBI for all of our woes.
Ipoh City Council held a public forum recently to discuss how to handle strays. The forum was held at the council auditorium. This came after Noah’s Ark Ipoh, an animal rights group, held a candlelight vigil outside the Chief Minister’s official residence in protest against the Council’s cruel methods of killing and disposing of strays.
Five professionals, all with community-service backgrounds made up the panel with the Council’s Secretary, Dato’ Abdul Rahim Mat Arif as the moderator. The five were veterinarian Dr Ranjit Kaur, founder and treasurer of Noah’s Ark Ipoh, Dr Hassuzana Khalil, State Veterinary Department Deputy Director, Zulkifli Abbas, Klang Municipal Council acting health director and Joy Elia Saga, Ipoh Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) Secretary.
According to Dato’ Dr Mah Hang Soon, who officiated the forum, City Council is not allowed to shoot strays unless they are aggressive and have diseases such as rabies.
Dr Ranjit urged the public to be responsible in caring for their pets. “Avoid unwanted litters as a large portion of the city’s strays were made up of abandoned and unwanted litters.”
Since the Council does not have a pound, pet owners whose dogs are captured cannot claim their pets. Rahim said that the Council was unsuccessful in curbing the large number of strays. The shooting of strays had not reduced the number. One solution is to enlarge the capacity of ISPCA. He promised the society an annual grant of RM10,000.
Ipoh City Council organised a “buka puasa” treat for 50 children from Ar‑Raudhah Baitul Mubarouqah Orphanage, Gunung Rapat. The event was held at Kinta Riverfront Hotel and Resort, Ipoh and was hosted by the Mayor, Dato’ Roshidi Hashim. The orphans received “duit raya” from the Mayor.
Bubur Lambuk for All
Tourism Perak came up with a novel idea to dispense bubur lambuk for all and sundry. The breakfast delicacy, a hit with most Muslims, was mass produced on the grounds of Stadium Indera Mulia, Ipoh on the evening of Thursday, August 9. The porridge was then packed into plastic containers and given to visitors and passers-by. Over 6,000 packs were prepared. Dato’ Hamidah Osman and her staff then distributed the packs to passing motorists at the Ipoh PLUS toll gates.
During a recent interview with Bernama, Datuk M. Kayveas, President, People’s Progressive Party and former Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister said that the inefficiency of local government and abuses by employees has given the Barisan Nasional government a bad name. The government should focus on improving the efficiency of local government to ensure it fulfils the aspirations of the people. He claimed that offenders were not sacked but transferred to other departments within the same local government authority. He added the time has come for the government to amend the Local Government Act 1976 to benefit the people.
Some years ago MBI invited a number of NGOs and explained the concept of Local Agenda 21 (LA21) and how we could work together to improve the quality of life in Ipoh. With the change of mayors, the concept was forgotten. LA21 is a programme to forge partnerships between local authorities and the communities they serve and to work together to plan and care for their surroundings towards sustainable development. LA21 adopts a “bottom up” approach. The local communities themselves are involved from the very initial planning stage.
From the number of complaints people have shared with me, what Kayveas said is true for MBI. I am highlighting just a few of the outstanding complaints for which no action has been taken.
Residents living in Persiaran Tiger Lane, off Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, are having sleepless nights. Cobras, iguanas and monitor lizards are frequently seen in their compounds and enter their houses. The place is also infested with mosquitoes. One of the residents has a file going back to the eighties with letters published in the papers and complaints lodged with MBI. The residents are afraid to reveal their names. They informed that they were confronted by a few people when they had complained earlier and were advised not to complain.
One of the causes of the problem is the cemetery managed by Perak Hock Kean Association which is only used occasionally and is adjacent to the house of one of the complainants. It is overgrown with trees and shrubs and from outside does not look like a cemetery. A spokesman for the Association, who identified himself as Teoh, said that there is a caretaker for the cemetery and was not willing to say more. When it is windy, leaves from the trees fall into the compound of the houses. There are also two houses which have been vacant for more than ten years. The compounds are overgrown with trees and weeds and are breeding grounds for reptiles and mosquitoes.
R. Suppiah, a resident living in Jalan Lange, Ipoh Garden said big trees are growing along the slopes of the drain behind the houses. The drain is about ten feet deep with steep smooth cemented sides. Initially when it was a gravel drain it was regularly maintained by MBI, however, after concreting no maintenance is done.
A. Basnayake, who lives in Jalan Carlos, behind Fatimah Hospital, said that cars are parked haphazardly in front of the houses and road junctions. The residents have complained to MBI and only once the enforcement officers came and summoned a few cars. The situation is now back to its old chaos and getting worse.
Another resident Baljit Singh from Taman Silibin wants the Mayor to Turun Padang to his place and see the situation for himself. He’s had no help to get things done.
MBI must take prompt action on complaints. The councillors must engage with the residents of their zones and solve their problems.
The developer demolishing the Majestic Theatre has blatantly ignored MBI’s stop-work order issued on June 19 and proceeded to continue demolishing work.
On June 18 Ipoh Echo had received complaints that demolition of the Majestic Theatre was ongoing without the safety requirements such as boarding up the work area. Another requirement to display the project notice board indicating the work being done was missing.
Subsequently it was learnt that the owner had not applied for approval to demolish the theatre and a stop work order was issued to the demolition contractor on June 19.
Follow up visits to the site on 21 June revealed that work had not stopped with the left front façade now demolished. Also missing was the boarding and notice board.
The boarding for the site was seen arriving on Monday afternoon June 25. By this time the entire front façade was a heap of rubble and only the back portion was still upright.
A check with MBI’s Building Department confirmed that the owner of the premises had ignored the stop work order.
Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim when contacted said that legal action has been initiated against the owner under the Strata, Buildings and Drainage Act 133 which carries a maximum fine of RM50,000 or 3 years jail or both.
In October 2009 a row of pre-war shop houses being demolished collapsed onto Jalan Kamaruddin Isa in Fair Park killing two men. Following that incident, for safety reasons, all demolition work plans had to be submitted to Ipoh City Council for approval before work could commence.
Ipoh Echo has been going on for years about litter throughout Ipoh. Some may still remember our ‘Dirt Vigilante’ column which used to highlight illegal rubbish dump sites ar
ound town. Undoubtedly there has been some improvements but based on the complaints received, apparently, the perception amongst the general public is that not enough is being done. However, instead of rate payers complaining about the rubbish, there must be a paradigm shift in the attitude of the residents in disposing of garbage. It takes two hands to clap and it is high time that the public joined hands with City Council and take responsibility for their part in keeping Ipoh clean.
llegal Dump-Sites and Irresponsible Dumping is the Main Problem
Just recently, Perak MB Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abdul Kadir, remarked that more should be done to improve cleanliness in Ipoh. He made the remark while on his Ipoh Green City bicycle ride through town on the way to Pengkalan Pegoh. Zambry’s observation was indeed spot on.
In housing estates it is common to see piles of uncollected rubbish, some overgrown with grass, which shows how long they must have been lying there. Similarly at commercial shop house areas, whether in town or housing estates, back lanes are littered while the front of the shops have black bags and plastic bags of waste food awaiting collection.
Even the prestigious Greentown Business Centre is not spared with shabby frontage and littered back lanes. A check on who should be responsible for keeping Ipoh clean revealed that it is a joint responsibility by both the authorities as well as the rate payers.
To verify IE’s finding we checked with several of Ipoh’s councillors for Canning, Buntong/Silibin, Bercham and New Town. The councillors all responded that the three times per week garbage collection is very good. The problem experienced by all was the issue of illegal dump sites or what the authorities categorise as ‘sampah haram’.
Illegal Dump Sites
An illegal dump site is created when ‘someone’ places a plastic bag of rubbish at a junction or anywhere along the road and other passers-by add on to it. The ‘add-ons’ could be anything from general rubbish bags, tree branches to old mattresses and even discarded furniture, a case of anything goes.
The Councillor for Buntong/Silibin, Sabramani Appadurai, lamented the irresponsible attitude of the public testifying that he personally was so satisfied to see an illegal site in his zone cleared in the morning only to find a new batch of furniture placed at the same site in the evening.
A check with MBI’s Community Section in charge of cleanliness advises residents to call their Buntong depot which handles the removal of garbage dumps (sampah longgok) at phone number 05-2555570. Callers have to provide the address and location of the dump site after which a report number will be provided. According to the spokesman at Buntong office, the reported site will be removed within seven days after the report is made.
The overall cleanliness of the town is handled by the Council’s City Community Affairs Department. Their scope covers three areas of public cleanliness: sweeping roads (removal of debris and leaf litter and such) garbage collection, which occurs three times per week; and cleaning drains. When interviewed, a spokesman for the department confirmed that all of the three activities have their Standard Operating Procedures.
While garbage collection has been outsourced and is running smoothly, it is the clearing of illegal dump sites, which spring up all over the city, that is a serious problem. Unless a paradigm shift occurs, residents will throw rubbish everywhere. Some even throw their rubbish in front of their neighbour’s house. Furthermore, placing garbage bags outside for scavenging dogs, cats and even cows two days before collection dates is irresponsible.
Procedures for the clearing of illegal dump sites state that this has to be done twice a month for each zone. With Ipoh’s 22 zones there are not enough lorries to maintain the procedure. Hence residents are encouraged to call MBI’s Buntong Depot to request for garbage removal services.
At commercial areas, the back lanes are strewn with litter while at the front of the premises black bags are awaiting collection. Meanwhile at the Greentown Business Centre litter can be seen in broken flower pots while the back lane is consistently littered.
While the responsibility to clean the sidewalks and back lanes inclusive of the illegal dump sites of Ipoh still lie with Ipoh City Council there is a limit as to how much the council can do.
When IE asked if more enforcement should be taken, Ipoh Mayor Dato’ Roshidi Hashim responded that “we have already done that but the problem keeps recurring,” citing the case of illegal dump sites.
However, Roshidi added that “we need to train the public to co-operate to keep Ipoh clean”. Interestingly, his statement was earlier echoed by several of the councillors. Which meant that the solution for a clean ipoh was through a joint effort by the public and authorities.
The council is already practising public cleaning and enforcement with limited success. Hence, in order to enhance the level of cleanliness it is timely that the council initiate a public education initiative through an anti-litter campaign and simultaneously implement stricter enforcement.
Creating a clean and litter free environment involves everyone and to achieve such a wide reaching goal involves not just the people and public but the private sector of corporations and institutions.
The message that needs to be conveyed to the public is to keep their surroundings clean and not rely on cleaners to clean up after them but rather participate to keep the environment clean. Offices, schools, industry as well as government departments should all participate in the anti-litter campaign to keep their premises and immediate surroundings clean.
Coffee shop owners associations and hawker associations amongst others, should be made aware of their roles to promote cleanliness. ‘Litter Free’ banners and posters should be displayed prominently to educate Ipohites on how to dispose of their rubbish responsibly.
For a start, the council should immediately start with “Litter-Free Public Events”. The upcoming Ipoh Star Walk 2012 would be a good example. During the event the emcee could continually remind the multitude of participants to dispose of their litter responsibly.
The event organisers on their part would make bin facilities available for proper disposal of rubbish while displaying ‘Keep Clean’ banners.
This form of joint-corporate participation with authorities reaches out to a wide community and wil have positive long term responses towards creating anti-litter awareness.
As for the enforcement part, the anti-litter laws are in place and would just require stricter enforcement. Although Mayor Roshidi has mentioned many times that he was serious about nabbing litterbugs and has shown figures to back his action, litter is still abundant.
Perhaps the Council should review its strategy to enable a more effective deterrent which probably would include stricter enforcement. After all it has been proven to be a key strategy to maintain public cleanliness.
Ever Ready MBI
MBI on its part must be ever ready to support the anti-litter effort. Cleanliness being a long-term goal perhaps a task force could be created to ensure continuous progress in meeting its goals?
MBI has been talking of cleaning up Ipoh for a long time. Possibly the time has come for the residents to see some results and in the near future too. Hopefully public education is the solution to ensure Ipoh earns back the title of “Cleanest Town in the country”.
I often hear complaints from residents that no action is taken by MBI on owners of unkempt vacant land near their houses. Their main fear is of snakes and other reptiles living there. Frequently the excuse given by MBI for not taking action is that they cannot locate the owner.
However recently, the agent who looks after a large plot of vacant land adjacent to Lorong Pari, said that the owners were summoned by MBI to clean up the place which is overgrown with weeds and plants. I told the tractor driver not to bull doze the mature trees. Many birds nest on the trees and it is home to wild fowl. The place has been cleared. MBI does take action; but it is slow and selective.
Meanwhile, MBI must provide written guidelines on clearing of vacant land to ensure that mature trees are not cut and reptiles and other animals living there are not killed. The land cleared is next to the river and there are snakes, iguanas and monitor lizards. These must be caught and released in a safe area. This must be the responsibility of MBI. We must not forget that all animals have the right to live and their habitats must not be indiscriminately destroyed.