Living in dirt: ‘Tidak apa’ habits die hard?

By being irresponsible with simple things like rubbish disposal, we show that we are still a long way from being a civilised society, says Jiran.

This is a picture essay of how a community in a residential housing estate in Penang overlooks its own ‘tidak apa’ habits while assuming a self-righteous façade when they have, in fact, broken the law.

In aspiring to a more democratic society, some have confused democracy with lawlessness. Sadly, we have not been educated in democracy or how to legitimately exercise our democratic rights while respecting the rights and dignity of others around us. In short, we have not yet learned civic- or community-mindedness.

No rubbish bin here, but residents have created a dump, by dumping rubbish illegally on the road - Photograph: Jiran

No rubbish bin here, but residents have created a dump, by dumping rubbish illegally on the road – Photograph: Jiran

The Municipal Council provides each household in the neighborhood with a green ‘wheelie bin'; so why don’t they use it? It has a cover and can be left outside the garden gate to be emptied by garbage collectors.

People around the neighborhood can be seen stopping their motorbikes and cars to dump garbage at this spot. They look furtively and sheepishly around before depositing their rubbish at this site.

Adding insult to injury, residents living close to the dump – those who use the green wheelie bins and don’t throw rubbish at this illegal dump right outside their houses – are accused of throwing rubbish here. Blaming the blameless doesn’t solve the problem.

The larger picture. Notice the signs above the illegal rubbish dump - Photograph: Jiran

The larger picture. Notice the signs above the illegal rubbish dump – Photograph: Jiran

Does anyone care? It goes unnoticed or ignored by residents who think they are law-abiding citizens. The white sign is simply an advertisement of someone’s business. It partially obscures the public notice of the RM500 penalty for illegal dumping and littering. Are these people in the neighborhood behaving responsibly?

Up close – see what the sign says - Photograph: Jiran

Up close – see what the sign says – Photograph: Jiran

Is this what Penangites are proud of? Exhibiting our inconsideration for other people, just because we think we can get away with ignoring the law. We also show others our unhygienic habits and our callous and uncaring attitude towards our neighbors.

By being irresponsible with simple things like rubbish disposal, we show that we are still a long way from being a civilised society, let alone an advanced nation.

Jiran is the pseudonym of a contributor to our Thinking Allowed section.

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2 Responses

  1. How can Malaysia ever be a civilised society, when the leaders especially the cabinet ministers are supposed to be the examples ? Every action of these schmucks are copied by the young Malaysians, must have heard of the saying lead by examples. Malaysia is already in a shamble, therefore any hope to become a civilised society can only be a dream, as long as Malaysia is lead by these schmucks of Umno. Stop dreaming, unless of course, the sooner you kick these Umno schmucks out of Putrajaya he sooner Malaysia will become a more civilised society !

  2. Ed G says:

    What happened to the Pendidikan Moral (or Agama) and Sivik subjects which I believed are taken by most Malaysian students from Primary 1 up to Form 5? In addition, the Pendidikan Moral (or Agama) are compulsory SPM papers to be sat by non-muslim and muslim students respectively. If 11 years of education throughout the formative period of a person’s life fails to inculcate just a simple habit of non-littering, then it doesn’t serve the purpose of burdening our children with all these extra subjects, not to mention the cost incurred to the government and the parents.

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