Monday, August 30, 2010

Keep errant park visitors in check

AN expatriate had a nasty experience when he chided a local for riding a motorcycle at Lake Titiwangsa recently. The expatriate must have thought he was going to be beaten up. My wife and I had just arrived at one of the three wooden bridges at the popular park when we witnessed the incident.

The expatriate was enjoying the view of the lake on the bridge with his daughter, who was about 5 years old, when their attention was disrupted by the sound of a motorcycle.

A motorcyclist and his female companion were about to cross the wooden bridge on their motorcycle when the expatriate stopped him and told him that he should not ride in the park.

The local man, in his 50s, stopped his motorcycle and appeared furious.

Fearing that the motorcyclist might not understand English or could have mistaken the advice for an insult, I translated what the expatriate guy had said.

Instead of apologising for riding his motorcycle in an area meant for pedestrian traffic, the motorcyclist gave the expatriate and I a stern look before angrily turning the throttle of his motorcycle and speeding off.

When the motorcyclist was out of earshot, the expatriate told me that the man must have been angry because a “Mat Salleh” had told him off.

I assured him that he did the right thing. It was quite common, I said, for some people not to be remorseful after an act of transgression.

In fact, it takes a lot of guts to criticise a wrongdoing, sometimes even at the risk of life and limb if one’s good intent is not taken too kindly.

Just a day earlier, I told off a group of youths who were lighting up a stove for an open-air barbecue by the lake. For my trouble, I was told to mind my own business and one even retorted that I don’t own the park.

A few weeks ago, an ice-cream seller didn’t look too happy because I told him not to ride his motorcycle on the jogging path.

From his accent, he didn’t even sound Malaysian when he barked that I should not stop him “cari makan".

It beats reason why some people behave as if they own public property by virtue of their birth.

Visit Lake Titiwangsa on Saturday and Sunday evenings and you will get my drift. Motorists park their cars on any vacant strip of tar without regard for the inconvenience caused to others. Motorcyclists and ice-cream sellers whiz down jogging paths or park their vehicles on road shoulders, frequently obstructing the pedestrian’s right of way.

City Hall has spent a good sum of money to beautify and provide Lake Titiwangsa (and other public parks) with various amenities to offer city folk a respite from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Why the costly investment is not matched by vigilance and strict enforcement of park regulations is a question only the local authority can answer.

Park wardens on horsebacks or bicycles or even on foot can do wonders to keep errant park visitors in check. Closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs) can also deter uncivic behaviour.

Tonight, as city folk converge at Lake Titiwangsa and other parks in the city to celebrate the country’s 53rd year of Independence, let’s hope that we can all shout Merdeka with the pride that we have also freed ourselves from the indifference we now have for the right of others and our common property.

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