By Sakini Mohd Said
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- "What's your New Year resolution?" This is the oft-asked question each time a brand new year rolls up.
Jan 1 marked the start of 2020, which signifies the start of a new decade. I am sure many people took the opportunity to make firm resolutions for themselves and set out goals they wished to achieve this year.
Several netizens took to posting their resolutions on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. Their resolutions include pursuing higher studies, changing their field of work or earning a higher income.
As usual, their aspirations for the new year — mainly involving their career, health and relationships — centred on their personal growth and well-being.
I have yet to come across any individual who has resolved to become more civic-minded or care about matters such as cleanliness or practise noble values.
Do people trivialise such things or feel they don't carry enough weight to be included in their resolutions?
The answer to the above question has to be a resounding 'yes' if we were to take a look at all the garbage that was strewn on the streets of Kuala Lumpur by revellers after the new year's eve celebrations on Dec 31.
It is not only a sad state of affairs but also embarrassing because the city centre is where tourists like to visit. Imagine various parts of the city choked with food remnants, plastic bags, spray cans used by the revellers to welcome the new year, cigarette butts, water bottles and others.
According to media reports, Alam Flora Sdn Bhd collected nine tonnes of rubbish from the city after the recent new year's eve celebrations.
Its chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Zain Hassan was quoted as saying that 10 tonnes of trash were collected from the KLCC area alone, followed by Bukit Bintang (2.5 tonnes) and Dataran Merdeka (also 2.5 tonnes).
He said 100 Alam Flora workers, supervisors and drivers and 10 compactors had to be mobilised, while the entire cleaning operations lasted eight hours!
Just imagine the time, energy and money spent by the authorities merely to "entertain" the bad habits of members of the public who have yet to adopt cleanliness as a way of life.
I guess it is true about what some people say — it may be the start of a new year but there is no change in the attitudes and mentalities of the public that are stuck in the old, third-class mould despite the fact that come August, it will be 63 years since our nation attained independence.
It is so depressing! Littering and lack of civic consciousness are not new in Malaysia. The disgusting scenes of rubbish strewn all over the streets after the new year's eve celebrations reflect society's failure to practice the cleanliness culture.
My question is this: Is it that hard to dispose of rubbish in the right place?
I ask myself that question each time I see mounds of refuse left behind after a pasar malam (night market), carnival or feast has ended. Even food stalls, tourist spots and cinemas are not spared.
Recently I watched the movie Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at a cinema and when the film ended and the lights were switched on, I was shocked at the amount of trash the audience left behind on their seats. I also saw popcorn spilt on the floor.
The problem with many people is that they assume that they are the "boss" the minute they step into a public place and feel they are entitled to drop litter wherever they like. In fact, they think that the cleaners hired by the local authorities will run out of jobs if the public disposes of rubbish in the bins provided.
Many moviegoers comprise families and if parents discard litter as they wish, their children will follow suit. Is this the kind of behaviour we want our children to emulate?
When we are in a public place, we want it to be clean and comfortable but then some of us are either too lazy or choose to ignore the fact that we too are responsible for its upkeep.
Media reports have stated that Kuala Lumpur alone gets an allocation of RM200,000 a month from the government for the purpose of garbage management.
Take a look at what happened to Taman Tasik Titiwangsa in Kuala Lumpur after it was reopened to the public last month following upgrading works. Just hours after it reopened, vandalism reared its ugly head.
The irresponsible actions of the vandals and litterbugs angered many park users who suggested that an entrance fee be imposed.
Remember that this year is Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and as such, cleanliness is of utmost importance if we want to attract tourists to our nation.
Every individual has a role to play and civic consciousness should begin at home under the guidance of one's parents. It is not difficult to value cleanliness. One just needs to be disciplined and practise it consistently. Do you want to embrace this value?
(This commentary expresses the personal views of the writer and does not reflect Bernama's stand.)
Translated by Rema Nambiar
Malaysia National News Agency
No.28 Jalan BERNAMA
Off Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel : +603-2693 9933 (General Line)
Email : helpdesk[at]bernama.com