Message to the Community

By G. Sivapragasam

Rules and regulations are essentially a code of conduct that members of the community have agreed to abide by to live in society.

Not a single day passes in this nation without one reading or hearing complaints about some act or omission by the government. Admittedly some of the grievances are not without cause or justification. However, the whingeing has touched a level where one is left with the impression that everything that is wrong in this country is the government’s fault.

Moaning and groaning is a national preoccupation today. The loudest criticisms originate from members of the upper-middle class of our society who, substantively, are the elite of this nation.

While this elite group exercise little hesitancy in complaining about the sins of the government, their own social manners leave a lot to be desired. These very same people who are loud in their complaints against the government demonstrate little compunction in engaging in unsociable conduct without a care how their actions would affect their neighbours and members of society.

And more remarkably, our society, which takes umbrage at the smallest infraction by the government, shows astonishing tolerance to anti-social behaviour of their peers.

On Monday, April 7, the Star carried on its front page in graphic detail, our rivers filled with filth and garbage. It went on to suggest it contributed to the current water shortage in the Klang Valley, as polluted rivers resulted in less water being pumped into the treatment plants translating into less clean water available for distribution to households.

It estimated that 300,000 tonnes of garbage are dumped into rivers yearly. I believe that this is a very conservative estimate. It is just that we have been fortunate to live in a climate where heavy rainfall clears the rivers regularly. However, changing weather patterns with longer drier spells may result in our rivers turning into garbage corridors. Who is to be blamed for this? By no stretch of imagination can we place this at the door of the government.

Jalan Tun Dr Ismail (formerly Thompson Road) is a high-end residential area. Recently the area has witnessed a surge of new houses, some costing in excess of several millions. The residents, who must be very well off to live in this area, could reasonably be expected to demonstrate a certain level of civic consciousness. However, their behaviour speaks otherwise. Garbage is dumped by the roadside, the offenders taking care that it is away from their houses.

It would appear that their sense of quality of life does not extend beyond the perimeter of their residences with little thought that other residents may have different values.

Not too far away from this location is a cemetery. How the cemetery is maintained is a reflection of the mind-set of the community. For most of the year it is a secondary jungle, at best. Once a year descendants of those buried in the cemetery arrive in droves to pay respect to their ancestors. The cleaning method employed can only be described as slash and burn. The event ends with burnt vegetation, including trees and garbage left at the gravesite.

Is this how one honours ancestors? A couple of dollars from each descendant could transform this place, which is in the prime part of the City, into a great-looking park that would not only deliver dignity to the departed but be an attraction for Ipoh’s residents and visitors.

There are many things that we ourselves can do to improve the quality of our lives. What we need is a change of mind-set that goes beyond selfishness. Rules and regulations are essentially a code of conduct that members of the community have agreed to abide by to live in society. Breach of this covenant is a betrayal of this societal code.

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