Littering a sad and bad culture
Published on: Sunday, December 12, 2010
By: Tan Sri Herman Luping
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The Minister of Local Government, Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor launched the anti-litter campaign last week. It is a State-wide exercise to be observed in all district townships under the district councils, municipalities and the city of Kota Kinabalu.

Anti-litter campaign is not new in Sabah. Successive administration in the State had embarked on it but the attitude of the people regarding littering has not greatly changed. What has changed is the people who call for the campaign, and I imagine, the attitude of our people regarding littering will continue to be the same. The attitude of our people is to leave the cleaning of the township to the authorities.

To them, that is authorities' job.

And littering is part of Sabah's "culture".

There was a big hoohah about the township of Semporna recently.

The Minister of Tourism, Datuk Masidi Manjun was reported as quoting what visitors ( tourists) have said about the township of Semporna as a dirty town. Some leaders from Semporna did not like the comments and without reading the statement of the Minister properly, demanded that Masidi apologised.

Umno youths of the district also got into the act and asked Masidi to retract the statement!

The Minister of Tourism, with the approval of the Chief Minister, decided to assist the township of Semporna by allocating money to help give Semporna a facelift and a cleaner outlook.

The Minister in the Chief Minister Department, Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran is made the Chairman of this exercise. This is a commendable effort and should not be confined only to Semporna.

Indeed, the exercise should also be made in all the district and towns and municipalities of Tawau, Sandakan and Keningau.

These municipalities are also dirty and in need of cleaning up.

Rats are still seen scampering in these towns!

The township of Donggongon in Penampang district is also criticised by people as dirty and messy.

The mess are especially noticeable around the new mega mall - strangely named "Megalong".

Many people are of the opinion that this mall should never have been built there.

The row of shops immediately opposite the mall have their air and view easements blocked and to some, the "feng sui", too.

The elected representative of Moyog, Datuk Donald Mojuntin is very matured in his view on the matter of litter in the township when I spoke to him about it recently. He welcomed criticisms and is of the opinion that the community in Donggongon township would one day change their attitude about littering.

He said time and education would eventually help the council's efforts to change the attitude of the people about littering.

The officers of the district council, he said, are not remiss in their duty to clean the town, but the people must also do their part.

Littering is not the only sad and bad "culture" that our society has embraced over the years.

The other disgusting "culture" is spitting in public! This, too, needs time and education to help rid the problem.

All the signs and slogans in and around the shops asking people not to spit have been put there as long as I can remember.

In Kota Kinabalu, there are two places where people can go to do their morning walk or jogging exercise: Tun Fuad at Bukit Padang and at the Sports Complex in Likas. I used to go to the Tun Fuad area, but the number of people who still have the disgusting habit of spitting as they walk is not encouraging!

I noticed that many are frequenting the sports complex at the Likas stadium. The atmosphere is cleaner!

I had a nasty experience once when I tried to do my civic duty.

I told a person who spat while walking near my office at the Sedco complex at Kg Ayer, and the ensuing result of his effort nearly landed on my foot, that it was against the city's by-law to spit.

He was most aggressive and asked me where and how was he going to discard his spit.

Di mana,? he shouted! He was with another person, and I suspect the other one recognised me for he pushed the man and whispered to him to move on.

Spitting by tobacco munching American gentlemen in the Deep South of the USA was common as recent as the 1960s. Spittoons were placed in strategic places and the tobacco munching gentlemen have become very adept in spitting the tobacco juice from their mouth. They could aim their spit spot on into the spittoon from a distance! This was part of their "culture" but the spits were not done at random.

They had a special place for it.

And a long time ago, during the Usno-Alliance era, an anti-litter campaign was held.

A large group of people gathered at the Tanjung Aru beach near the golf club to listen to Tun Fuad's ( the Head of State) speech.

He called on the community to always remember their civic duty not to litter and to discard the attitude that other people would come and clean up the mess.

And then we started to clean the beach which was covered with plastic bags and other bits and pieces. We passed though a private house near the beach.

The owner took umbrage at Tun Stephens for going near his house to collect the bags of plastic.

He said there was no need for us to pick the mess as he paid the municipal council to clean it!

This is the typical "attitude" and this attitude has not really changed. But we must admit that our townships on the whole have improved considerably.

Kota Kinabalu city is a real joy to see these days. We hear a lot of compliments on the cleanliness and the general landscape of the city from visitors. Many are saying that KK is just like Singapore when it comes to cleanliness! The slum-looking Kg Sembulan is also now changing in outlook and when City Hall complete cleaning and rebuilding the area, it would add to the clean atmosphere of KK.

We used to see a lot rubbish and plastic bags covering a bigger part of Tanjung Aru beach.

The Taman Duke of Edinburgh was not spared of the rubbish and litter then. The plastic bags were washed to the beach from Pulau Gaya. Today, the beach and the Taman are clean.

The source of the plastics have been stopped. The residents of Pulau Gaya have been discouraged from throwing rubbish through the windows and into the sea below.

For the cleanliness of the city of Kota Kinabalu, we owe it to the Mayor, Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim and his team of landscape artists and cleaners.

Meanwhile, a township like Semporna is still in need of an urgent facelift and cleaning.

Semporna is the gateway to Sabah's iconic islands, like world known Sipadan island, where thousands of tourists visit every year.

Semporna is the first town they see and visit.

We should welcome their comments about the general condition of the town, instead of taking umbrage.

The certificate of cleanliness was awarded to the Semporna town council some years back (2008) and many of the rubbish thrown indiscriminately into the sea and in and around the shops since then have accumulated. The clean certificate award in 2008 should not be taken as a certificate for "life".

Each and every year a certificate of cleanliness should be won.

The township of Lahad Datu is another town that is criticised as dirty and messy-looking.

The standard of cleanliness has improved but not enough.

A greater effort is needed to clean the town's image.


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