My Say

Keep Ipoh Clean as a Gift to the Sultan

By Jerry Francis

The installation of the Sultan of Perak, HRH Sultan Dr Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, is just around the corner (November 27). It will certainly  be an historical event, filled with ancient traditions and custom. Much of the event will be centered around the royal town of Kuala Kangsar.

Several royal guests and dignitaries will be invited. The state has to be spruced up for the occasion. More so Ipoh, the capital of the Silver State. Let us all as loyal subjects work toward keeping the city clean and beautiful as a gift to our new ruler. HRH Dr Nazrin will no doubt appreciate it greatly.

He has always shown great concern for the cleanliness of  the city. In 2010, when the Ipoh Echo highlighted the illegal rubbish dump sites in the vicinity of Gunung Rapat, the Sultan (then the Raja Muda) personally inspected the site and ordered the city council to clear them. The Ipoh City Council should take his action as a cue to maintain cleanliness in the city.

Inspite of his intervention, the situation in the city has not improved. There are still large numbers of illegal rubbish dump sites in and around the city. There are also complaints of the city council of not being able to keep the city clean. There are rubbish and clogged drains everywhere.

It is unfair to blame the city council alone for the situation. Irresponsible residents, who are readily disposing their rubbish indiscriminately, are also to be blamed.

Let us not just look into the past and carry on with the blaming game. We need to look positively and see how everyone can contribute towards the cleanliness of the city.

Why not use the forth-coming installation of the Sultan as the beginning of our road to restoring the lost image of Ipoh as one of cleanest cities in the country. It is a tough task and may take years, but at least let there be a beginning. If all, from the bureaucrats to the ordinary man in the street, join hands for a common goal – the target to restore the lost image of the city can be achieved.

I am inspired by a recent event in India. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a broom and swept the streets in Delhi to launch an ambitious nationwide clean-up campaign. His action has started politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and citizen groups to come out strongly in support of it. They will sacrifice several hours of their time each month to clean public places.

Modi’s five-year effort to clean up India was timed to coincide with the birthday of the country’s independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1948.

“We must give Mahatma Gandhi something on his 150th anniversary, in 2019,” stressed Modi. “Just as the whole nation united to fight for freedom then, we have to work together to clean India now.”

Well I do not expect our Mayor Datuk Harun Rawi to do likewise. But if he thinks it is necessary to drive home a point to show the seriousness of the city council’s effort to keep the city clean, then why not? Therefore, the recent strong worded caution from the Mayor to the independent cleaning contractors who are responsible for the upkeep of the city’s cleanliness is being observed as “very encouraging”.

Speaking after a recent council’s full-board meeting, Datuk Harun warned that any cleaning contractor who performs badly would either get a cut in their payment, a warning letter, or their contract terminated. “I want all councillors to report to me on the performance of the contractors in their respective zones. If their service is not up to our standards, we will not hesitate to act against them,” he said.

However, the Mayor needs to follow up the warning with action. If necessary, enforce the anti-litter law strictly. Only then the mindsets and habits of the residents can be changed. Otherwise, any effort will only end up in failure. And like most of his predecessors, Datuk Harun will blame  the residents for their lack of co-operation.

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