Cleaning Ipoh – A Joint Responsibility


By James Gough

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Ipoh Garden East

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Greentown Business Centre

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

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness

Community Affairs

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Silibin / Lim Garden

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.

Commercial Areas

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Greentown Business Centre

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.

Public Education

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Greentown Business Centre

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.

Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's cleanliness
Ipoh Garden East

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.Ipoh City Council - MBI - Ipoh's 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”.

8 thoughts on “Cleaning Ipoh – A Joint Responsibility

  1. Please please the enforcement department pay a visit in jalan sultan iskandar Ipoh perak just besides Ipoh soho construction and Malaysia flat. There is a pile of rubbish uncollected for almost one and a half month already. Bacteria and diseases will easily spread around. Please action please

  2. Cleanliness of the streets and our neighbourhood is the joint responsibility of the Mayor, Council cleaners, Ipoh residents, shopkeepers, restauranteurs and their workers, street hawkers, young and old – in short, everybody and anybody who eat and drink and excrete, except those bed-ridden. Yes, even I am still learning and in training to ensure that I dispose of all refuse appropriately, at all times.

    Often, I have seen used tissues, plastic cups and bags and other food refuse being thrown out of moving cars, even those stationary. What does it take for offenders to bag their refuse and dispose of it later, appropriately. Don’t just blame desperate foreign workers with dirty habits, so many Malaysians have not acquired good clean habits and responsible ways to deal with what they don’t want.

    So, instead of new metal fences being installed all over town, how about some concerted efforts in repairing broken street paraphernalia, clearing clogged drains, placing more rubbish bins at strategic points on the streets and performing regular collection and their disposal, before rotting refuse stink out our streets? If Singaporeans can learn it, why can’t we?

    While we are at it, why can’t food outlets be compelled to keep their toilets clean and stench free? It seems so easy for MBI inspectors to withhold operation license from offenders. Only what hurts will effect change for the better. On clean toilets, we can learn our neighbours in Thailand.

    Shall we boycott all eateries and restaurants with dirty toilets? But why hasn’t MBI inspected them regularly to ensure that the toilets are cleaned properly on a daily basis? And why can’t each user be more caring for those who use the same after them?

  3. There is a councillor in my neighbourhood who drives around with his Councillor emblem prominently fixed on his car, but 100m from his house there is sampah longgok piling up over the months, but has not bothered to take any action. So much for turun padang. Sad to say that is their attitude – drive around and show off that they are MBI councillors, thats all.

  4. I am totally appalled by the dirt in Ipoh especially in Ipoh Garden East. No workers are in sight sweeping the road and rubbish are found everywhere. Grass that are cut should be swept and collected. If not the whole place becomes worse than it was before with shredded plastics. Drains are also overgrown with weeds and filled with rubbish. The list could go on and on….. So please, Mr. Mayor, do not forget the ratepayers of this forgotten area and let us have a clean and livable home.

  5. Datuk Bandar – Pls request yr councillors and also yr special assistants to ‘ turn ke padang ‘ at Taman Silibin and make sure you cover the WHOLE area. Please stop giving excuses lah…

  6. When I complained about the weeds growing out of the drain opposite my house, the response from MBI was prompt. They sent 4 workers to do the job but they only cleared that portion of the drain and not the entire length further down the road which was also clogged up. To make matters worse they just dumped the weeds at the end of the cul de sac. So it was the workers who started this illegal dumping site and soon others dumped their garden refuse there too.
    I am ashamed of the state of uncleanliness Ipoh has fallen into. The drains are not cleared and the sweepers at Brash road next to Polo ground sweep the fallen leaves into the manholes instead of carting them away in wheel barrows like they used to in days of yore. Soon Ipoh should be renamed the “Town of dirty drains”

  7. The trees around Taman Ria Bercham playground need to be trimmed as the branches have over grown. MBI has stopped doing its normal job of trimming the trees for a long time now. Please trim the trees as soon as possible to avoid any untoward accidents.
    Concerned Malaysian citizen.

  8. I was born in Ipoh 76 years ago and my memories of that town was one of beauty and cleaniness. Surely these photos are only a few, very few places that show garbage being strewn around. I hope so. thank you fopr all your articles.

Comments are closed.