Hornbill Unleashed

July 11, 2017

Don’t shoot the messenger

Filed under: Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 8:02 AM

The inhabitants of one English town came up with an unusual idea, having been frustrated by the failure of their local council to repair potholes in the roads. They filled up the road cracks and craters with brightly coloured flowering plants to highlight the dangers. The media spotlight prompted an immediate repair.

This method may not work in Malaysia. Within minutes of the plants being placed in the potholes, some enterprising Malaysian would dig them up to replant in his garden.

Anyone who drives a car along a road littered with potholes, knows how much damage it can do to the suspension. In some Western countries, councils pay for damage to cars. Will ours?

Motorbike riders and bicyclists fare worse. Some people have been seriously hurt, and even killed driving into these potholes.

Five years ago, one Malaysian turned into a citizen journalist (CJ) and started to document the problems which were not being satisfactorily addressed in his neighbourhood of Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara. His first videowas uploaded on 13 June 2012. His local council is the Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ).

He said, “Documenting the issues has several advantages. It is proof, that the issues are not being fabricated. It also date stamps when the issue occurred.

“It shows exactly where the issue is, because providing the street address may not be enough. I can also add a map, from Google Maps, to mark the exact spot.

“Making videos also allow a “before and after” comparison, and how long it has taken for MBPJ to resolve the issues.”

According to this CJ, the council would make half-hearted attempts at resolving the problems, because within a few days, these problems would be back to square one.

He also makes “thank you” videos to show his gratitude to MBPJ for resolving an issue to his satisfaction.

CJ highlights problems, by first calling the MBPJ hotline, and messaging them on Facebook. This is followed by messages to the MBPJ councillor in charge of his area, Tang Fuie Koh. He also contacts his assemblyperson (Adun), Elizabeth Wong, and his MP, Sivarasa Rasiah.

When asked why he was only interested in issues involving his neighbourhood, he said, “I only comment on neighbourhoods where I own property, as I have vested interest as a landlord.

“If an area is neglected and becomes an eyesore, nobody will want to rent in the area and the rent will fall. Criminals, drug addicts and other undesirables will move in and ruin the neighbourhood even further.”

CJ uploads his video clips to YouTube and various pages on Facebook. He deletes the videos, once the properties are sold, and he no longer owned them.

Apathetic response from MBPJ

The sort of response he received from documenting his problems varies. He said, “The response from the council has been apathetic. Many of the problems from seven years ago remain unresolved.

“Indiscriminate parking at bus stops and road junctions, in particular, peeve me. People park just about anywhere that pleases them.

“There are no rubbish bins by the roadside; instead we have disused payphone booths without phones, which take up space.

“The public and community don’t respond much to my videos, as not many people know they exist. I don’t advertise or boost them. No budget lah.”
Two of his videos can be watched here: In English and in Bahasa Malaysia.

CJ is outraged by the lack of political will, the lack of a budget, or procedures, to resolve many of his issues. He said, “Take the issue of abandoned cars. The only thing MBPJ has done is to put a sticker on a car that has been abandoned for more than a year.

“Recently, one car was parked on the pavement and over the past few months, all four tyres and rims were stolen, making it difficult to tow away. Then, both headlights went missing. MBPJ just isn’t interested in dragging it off the pavement or towing it away. It is a major eyesore.”

Pothole problems are another issue and he said, “There is no preventive maintenance schedule. There is no engineer from MBPJ, to go round and inspect the condition of the roads, potholes, whether streetlights are working, or tree branches need pruning.

“They are reactive; they only act when someone complains, and even then, not all the time. I even made a satirical video on the subject.”

He has summarised the varied response from the council. The streetlights issue has been addressed, but indiscriminate parking has not received any attention. Although roads are swept clean, the collected rubbish is left on the roadside for a month before being removed. In the meantime, rats breed in the heaps of collected rubbish and villagers scour through them, searching for aluminium cans to sell for scrap.

CJ admits that rubbish collection from tips are more frequent now, than before.

Urging others to do more for their local community, CJ said, “Young people are savvy with social media and should document issues about their neighbourhood and upload them.”

He is more dismissive of the local council and said, “Get off your backside. Earn your pay. Most of you are useless driftwood, with an inflated sense of entitlement. As public servants, your first duty is to serve the public.”

Will the council listen? Let us hope other residents in the area take up CJ’s call.

Also, you can watch this satirical video the CJ made on the complaints.

Source : Malaysiakini by Mariam Mokhtar
MARIAM MOKHTAR is a defender of the truth, the admiral-general of the Green Bean Army and president of the Perak Liberation Organisation (PLO).


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