ARE we seeing a slow death of civic-mindedness? It seems to be so, if by civic-mindedness we mean a show of concern for public good or humanity.
We witnessed an extreme example of civic irresponsibility at the Seri Pantai People’s Housing Project (PPR) in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur, on Monday night. A chair thrown from one of the upper floors of the flat struck the head of a Form Three student of SMK La Salle in Petaling Jaya, killing him at the scene.
The boy’s mother, who was walking with him after a trip to the grocer’s, could have been a victim, too. We do not know if the chair was a killer litter from a lazy occupant, but as this paper has learnt, it is not the first time that such a thing is happening there. It had rained beer bottles and nails before.
Residents in high-rise flats elsewhere, too, have frequently complained of rubbish and other litter raining on them.
With that raining rubbish and killer litter, civic responsibility of some Malaysians have gone out of the window, too.
What ails some of us? It may be a case of the death of discipline, a discipline that acknowledges the proper place for everything. We cannot just blame our indiscipline on the City Hall or town council for not providing a place to throw rubbish, such as unwanted furniture.
Civic responsibility, like charity, begins at home. If parents litter, the child will do the same. They tend to imitate us. If we want our children to be a good copy of us, we need to be a good copy first. Bad examples do not a good copy make.
There is lots of truth in Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kintergarden. But, then again, there are the recalcitrant ones, too. No matter how many hours of civic education, their errant behaviours persist. For such people, strict enforcement is the only answer.
Surveillance cameras may need to be emplaced in as many locations as possible to deter them. Hefty fines need to be imposed, too. If this doesn’t work, community service, followed by jail term, may just rehabilitate them.
Lack of civic responsibility is not just the disease of some flat dwellers. It is evident elsewhere, too. We see it at the parking lots of our iconic Twin Towers, shopping malls and theatres.
Ubiquitous may just describe the Malaysian strain. And, civic irresponsibility is not limited to trash, either. It is evident in how we drive and where we park our cars.
We care very little if we hinder another or put others at risk. This paper has devoted much column inches to vehicles blocking fire engines on their way to put out fires. The car owners do not realise that one day, it may be their homes and families that the firemen are rushing to save.
And, we have not even begun to mention the menacing manners of the Mat Rempit. Some Malaysians, it appears, are slowly but surely losing the human touch.