Monday, July 5, 2010

My sleepy but safe and clean hometown

AT the risk of being accused of bragging about my hometown, yes, I still think that Kuala Terengganu is one of the cleanest towns in the country. You should visit it one of these days to see it for yourself — as my family and I did with a family friend.

I would not have noticed the cleanliness had my wife not pointed it out to me. Throughout our four-day stay, we saw council sweepers at work at many times of the day and even late into the night, in areas including the town square Dataran Shahbandar, the parks and alleys. Their presence must have made litterbugs feel guilty.

I did not see any warning signs against littering. You know, those that say you will be fined RM500 if you are found guilty of littering. One sign I do remember seeing was at a traffic light junction leading into town. It read: “Tak rasa bersalah ke…? Buang sampah dari kenderaan anda ?” (Don’t you feel guilty throwing rubbish from your vehicles?).

Judging from the cleanliness at the junction, the gentle reminder must have stopped many motorists from throwing out tissues, sweet wrappers and such from their vehicles.

But cleanliness is not the only thing Kuala Terengganu can take pride in. Along Jalan Kampung China, my friend was surprised to see cast-iron drain covers still in use. If those were in Subang Jaya or Jinjang, he mused, they would not have lasted 24 hours before ending up in a junkyard in Puchong or Kepong.

I also noticed that the fire hydrants along the heritage row in Kampung Cina were mounted with solar-powered LED lights.

The flashing lights came on at dusk so that in the event of fire, the hydrants could easily be spotted from a distance. That many of the blinkers were still attached to the hydrants and in working condition could only mean that vandalism was not rampant in the coastal town.

The trees, lamp posts and traffic lights, too, were spared from buntings and banners advertising ubat kuat bank lelong or announcing a kenduri kahwin The walls of buildings we saw were free of graffiti or bills and in most cases, it only took a “Stick No Bill” sign to keep the walls clean.
Perhaps people in Kuala Terengganu are more law-abiding than city folk, my wife said. Yes, and literate, I added.

Although the town is still very much a sleepy hollow by nightfall, Dataran Shahbandar was a hive of activity.

A bazaar and a fun fair held in conjunction with the World Cup was the centre of attention. Late into the night, scores of locals and tourists were out enjoying the breeze or watching a live soccer match being screened on a giant TV screen.

The streets were pleasant to walk during the day, and safe even late into the night. One could enjoy a stroll without worrying about being mugged.
I also noticed that there were more council enforcement officers checking on expired parking meters than policemen doing their patrols on foot or bikes.

The only time I saw the men in blue was one evening when a road block was set up at a corner of town to nab those driving recklessly on the narrow one-way streets.

And if the lack of visible police presence can be interpreted as a sign of safety and low crime rate, then Kuala Terengganu has definitely got one over Kuala Lumpur.

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