LAST week, a remark by a community leader in Bukit Bintang caught my attention. In welcoming the new KL mayor, Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib, the community leader identified three critical issues that he claimed needed the prompt attention of City Hall.
One of the issues was cleanliness. He suggested education as the solution to littering.
I was amused when I read it. His suggestion made me wonder -- can anyone teach the city's litterbugs any more than what they have already been taught?
The chap has obviously been oblivious to the many cleanliness campaigns held in the city under various names, including corporate social responsibility and gotong-royong.
Have we not seen enough posters discouraging people from dirtying our surroundings? How many of these have ended up in the drain, literally and figuratively speaking? Have we not been urged enough by the radio and the TV to love cleanliness? Still, we are in an uphill battle against the rising mound of garbage in the city.
Take a look around you. I am sure you will be able to catch litterbugs, as innocent as they come, red-handed. For instance, smokers who throw cigarette butts onto the road, who, when you catch them in the act, quickly grind the smouldering stumps with their shoes, as if they are doing you a favour by preventing a fire.
Have you ever walked by the gaming outlets and seen how the used paper gaming foils litter the outlet and its surrounding areas? Ever asked why none of the gaming companies have come up with recycling bins for punters who have failed to strike it rich to at least do some good for the environment?
Visit any eating stall, restaurant or hawker centre and check out their back alleys and drains. Ever wondered how much food waste they generate each day and how much have gone into the drains and sewers unnoticed?
To think that litterbugs in the city need to be educated on cleanliness is a load of rubbish. What they need is not education. I am sure most of them love a clean environment. The reason they still throw garbage like they own the streets is because the rubbish do not end up in their homes or backyards.
Maybe it's time we stopped kidding ourselves that more education can turn the tide against littering. Stop cracking our brains, and use the cane instead.
Make litterbugs pay. Find them and fine them. Make an example out of some so that they become examples for others. This, I think, is the best way to educate those who continue to litter.