Sun, 10 Dec 2023



What to be proud about, if we litter
Published on: Sunday, September 03, 2023
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Pictures show children of the writer picking up rubbish.
MY daughter was involved in the Majlis Sukan Sekolah events at the Sandakan Sports complex recently. Beyond the abundance of athletic talent on display, the buzz of cheering supporters and the lively carnival atmosphere, was a glaringly painful problem that is slowly but surely overwhelming Sandakan.

The problem of rubbish and our indifference to its impact to our society.

Everywhere I wandered around the complex, from the volleyball competition that was going on, to the football games in the fields and the athletics events going on at the stadium, all I saw was people leaving and throwing their food packaging on to the ground.

Even youths who were walking outside of the complex compound, were littering at the roadside as they walked to catch their buses home.

My daughter and I use the complex at least 5 times a week, if not more. If not for the diligent staff there, our delapidated sports facilities coupled with the amount of trash people just unashamedly throw everywhere; the place would just as well be another rubbish dump. 

I ask myself, what is the point in the values of discipline and training in sport when basic civic mindnesses and responsibility for public and communal spaces are concepts our youths can’t grasp? Do we wonder why our level of progress in numerous fronts is stagnant, and even on the decline? 

I blame the event organisers first and foremost, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Youth and Sports (and whoever else dares claim credit for these regular public events). You are responsible for organising these events! Make sure attendees don’t leave the venue like a war zone.

And then I blame the parents and families who raise these children. Your children would not dare trash your homes, nor eat and leave your mess behind for you or other family members to clean up after. So why would they feel it is their privilege and entitlement to leave their waste behind for others to deal with? 

I blame the complex management for allowing foodstalls to not only sell really unhealthy food options to our young people but to turn a blind eye to the waste they generate with their packaging.

And finally I blame our wider community for not even raising an eyebrow, not even repremanding when we see something wrong, not caring to even do something as simple as pick up up a small piece of litter when we cross it.

But the blame game doesn’t get us anywhere. We have to be shocked and fed up enough to act.

Together my daughter and I spent an hour cleaning up about 200 metres of greenspace in and outside of the complex entrance. We gathered 4 bags of trash, about 15kg of fresh plastic (literally 1 week old from the MSSD events) It is but a drop in the sea, as there are easily 100s of kilos left lying about, and especially hidden in tall grass and in the drains.

We spoke to the grounds keeper, who was also cleaning up the trash inside the compound at the same time. He says this happens at every major event, and not to mention on a daily basis. 

As Merdeka and Malaysia Day approach lets talk about true progress and patriotism. We can raise our flags, and sing our hearts out very year, but if we are the obstacles that our fellow Malaysians have to constantly overcome, then it’s just not fair.

If we cannot collectively take care of this place we call home, then we should really do some soul-searching as so-called Malaysians. 

Future Alam Borneo

(An environmental NGO still working on Sandakan’s plastic pollution problems)

- The views expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Express.

- If you have something to share, write to us at: [email protected]


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