CommentaryConnexionOPINION

Connexion: Litter Litter Everywhere and the Danger to You

By Joachim Ng

Property developers are behaving more like the local councils in providing services and infrastructure, observes Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah. He concedes that some councils have failed in providing basic services to the people, causing developers to step in and fill the void.

Let’s hope that all councillors have taken note of his keynote address entitled “Reimagining the Housing and Property Industry in the New Malaysia” delivered at a colloquium in Kuala Lumpur a month ago. Is there a big difference between Old Malaysia and New Malaysia at ground level? Life at the centre probably has changed for the better. How about life further out?

Two months before the May 9 general election, this columnist toured four suburbs in Ipoh city — Menglembu, Jelapang, Silibin and Buntong. They all looked the same at the ground; that is to say, litter was strewn about the roadsides, open spaces and drains. Five months after GE14 this columnist revisited Menglembu, Jelapang, Silibin and Buntong, adding Chemor to the list. The colourful scenery hasn’t changed. Plastic bags and paper cartons stand out in sharp contrast to the dull green grass at the roadsides and open spaces. Here and there disused mattresses dot the landscape, and stormwater drain sumps are stuffed with throwaways. In Menglembu, the smoke from open burning of a huge pile of garbage near a children’s playground is clearly visible to apartment and terraced house residents.

Ironically, gigantic signboards prominently displayed at many busy stretches carry the slogan: Ipoh Bersih, Hijau dan Maju. As such, there is a chronic disconnect between what is promised and what is delivered. Is it important that we keep the nation clean? Yes, dirty streets carry dirty implications. Local councils appoint cleaning service contractors to do the job, and contractual fees are paid every month using ratepayers’ money. If the job is not done, it is wastage of public funds.

There is also a life-threatening implication. Litter is home to killer mosquitoes and deadly germs because they trap stagnant water and food particles. Litter litter everywhere is a giveaway sign of a nation’s health index. If you see abundant litter in the residential areas of all cities and towns, the next thing to do is check the nation’s dengue and cancer rates. What’s the connection? Litter tells you that people are generally unaware that environmental abuse is a major factor that brings on deadly ailments as well as climate change.

NEXT: How Litter Kills You Slowly

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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