Let’s clean up after ourselves

BEING a Klangite (and a proud one, I may add), any little news article on the royal town catches my eye.

The news that’s been doing its rounds on social media is of course the recent crocodile sighting in Sungai Klang. The thought of any fish surviving, let alone crocodiles, in one of the most polluted waterways in the country is very surprising to me.

But no, the newspaper snippet that caught my eye was the Klang Municipal Council’s decision to spend RM500,000 to promote Visit Klang Year 2017.

This money would apparently be used on print materials such as info kits, pamphlets, booklets and coffee table books, and this in turn is expected to “persuade” some one million people to visit the town.

Now, I am all for promoting my hometown, but I am incredulous at the sheer amount that is going to be spent on print material for this purpose.

Wouldn’t RM500,000 be better utilised to clean up Klang? As anyone who has visited this food haven will tell you, Klang is dirty. Rubbish collection is a perennial problem and in parts of the municipality, you will find piles of garbage strewn along street corners. Areas with poor rubbish collection include Bandar Baru Klang, Meru, Bukit Tinggi and Pandamaran.

This cleanliness issue has been the bane of Klangities for as long as I can remember and last year, the Selangor Mentri Besar himself issued a stern rebuke to the council to clean up Port Klang within three months or face the music.

The council has now resorted to using private contractors to deal with waste collection. But one week after KDEB waste Management Sdn Bhd took over garbage collection in 20 areas, the company is struggling to get the job done.

Its general manager Ramli Mohd Tahir admits that collection of bulk waste and sweeping up litter in commercial areas were the toughest tasks.

“Collection of bulk waste is most difficult and it peeves me, as people keep dumping waste along road shoulders and isolated areas,” he said, adding that hours after his workers had removed old broken furniture and garden waste according to scheduled collection, more bulk waste appeared at the same spot.

To be fair, this lack of civic-mindedness or total disregard for the environment isn’t confined to Klang. Who can forget the actions of the Japanese film crew who picked up rubbish outside Hospital Kuala Lumpur? Media outlets had camped outside the hospital to cover the killing of Kim Jong-nam.

A Bernama reporter posted on Facebook about witnessing the Japanese reporters collecting garbage outside the hospital grounds around 2am on Feb 15, after other journalists had dispersed.

“As I was packing up, I noticed only the Japanese group appeared to still be staying on…they seemed to be searching for something while holding plastic bags…I thought they were looking for a lost colleague, but it turned out they were picking up rubbish from where the media had gathered,” Amirul Sajadi wrote.

“I was so embarrassed. Outsiders helping to pick up rubbish…and what stunned me even more was that they then took the waste along with them when they left in their taxis. I have no idea where they brought it to. Their discipline is admirable!”

Actually, as anyone who has been to Japan will tell you, cleanliness is the norm there. No one will do a double take or give you a second look if you start collecting rubbish in the middle of the night. This attitude has become second nature to the Japanese.

I’m sure many of our readers were embarrassed when they read about the Japanese film crew doing our job, but unfortunately for us, this isn’t an isolated case. Foreigners have been picking up after us for quite some time.

Last year, as part of a project called Trash Hero, a group of do-gooders cleaned up approximately 13 tonnes of garbage from the beaches in Langkawi. That’s 13 tonnes!

And you guessed it, the 840-strong group was led by a foreigner, Roman Peter from Switzerland. Peter founded Trash Hero in Thailand three years ago, but has brought his green initiative to the islands of Malaysia.

I wish he would do the same for the Kanching Falls near Rawang. I went for a hike there with a few friends three Sundays ago, and I was shocked by how dirty this place is.

It’s a beautiful setting near Rawang, a forest reserve with a waterfall and a number of natural pools that can be used for bathing.

Kanching is a favourite for picnickers, but these people leave trash everywhere. The group of us tried our best to pick up as much rubbish as we could, and I noticed other groups of foreigners doing the same, but the sheer amount of garbage I saw was overwhelming.

And so my advice to the Klang Municipal Council would be to save the RM500,000 and do a massive gotong royong for the royal town. Get the Klang people to participate, concentrate on really dirty areas and most importantly, teach them to be proud of keeping their surroundings clean.

The writer also hopes that the authorities will do something about the two abandoned buildings along Jalan Batu Tiga Lama, the main entry point into Klang, which is an eyesore.

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