IT is only right to practise good neighbourliness, however, it is tough to practise this when you end up having neighbours who simply lack civic-consciousness.
Just like the thieves who appear after dark; some neighbours will sneak out when nobody’s watching and dump their pile of rubbish nearby their neighbour’s house.
These unscrupulous neighbours even coach their young children or maids to be part of this unethical practise.
Despite having a rubbish bin of their own, some prefer to dump their domestic, garden and bulk waste elsewhere.
The problem is more apparent in landed neighbourhoods.
Sulo, who lives at a corner lot at SS3 in Petaling Jaya, is a victim of the waste dumping problem.
Her dustbin and the surrounding area are the preferred areas for some of her neighbours to dump their waste.
Her husband once caught a neighbour in the act and reprimanded him.
The neighbour stopped the “illegal dumping” but also stopped communicating with Sulo and her family. Others still continue to dump their waste outside her house.
“It is hard to talk to them because they do not take it well. Some also throw their waste at the playground too. This bad practise has to stop,” she said.
Sulo said the local council should consider the shame-and-name method to curb the problem.
Sara Chan, from Jalan SS2/3, Petaling Jaya said the waste dumping problem started at her place after her new neighbours, who were young executives, moved in.
“They have a rubbish bin. However, they would still walk to my house and leave the bag of rubbish beside my rubbish bin. My sister told them off and they stopped doing it,” said Chan.
Similarly, Ruby Lim had neighbours who would dump their old cupboards and other bulk waste at the side of her house.
“Once my parents pushed the junk back to the house that it came from. That neighbour has since stopped dumping waste at other people’s place,” she said.
Susan Wong from Damansara Jaya said her house was also a corner lot and it seem to “attract” rubbish.
“My husband is so mad that he is planning to install a CCTV to catch the culprits,” she said.
Resident June Yong said her neighbour would place food for the strays outside his house.
“I told my neighbour to stop the practise as it attracts rodents. They can feed the strays from their house compound but they won’t. They are just selfish,” he said.
Petaling Jaya councillor Sean Oon said besides individual houses, common spaces in neighbourhoods were also the target for rubbish dumping.
He cited an extreme case in SS9A, Sungai Way which turned into a domestic waste dumping ground for the residents. The culprits were none other than the residents themselves.
The spot, was constantly filled with rubbish, within a day, upon being cleared.
Onn installed a CCTV camera at the end of last year and caught 31 people within a day!
“The residents used to tell me it was the foreigners and outsiders who were dumping the rubbish at the spot. However, from my CCTV recording, it was the local residents who were doing it,” he said.
“Sometimes they lie and say it is not them. When I tell them I have CCTV footages, only then they would admit,” he said.
The spot is now clear and the incident became the talk of the Sungai Way village.
Oon went through a rubbish pile in SS1, Petaling Jaya to identify the culprits who threw the stuff there.
“The rubbish usually contained bills with their complete address which made identification easier,” he said.
Oon said the reasons given by the offenders were unacceptable and sometimes “funny”.
“Some actually tell me they do not have a waste bin. One person even told me he has been dumping waste at the same spot for 20 years and does not see it as a problem.
“Some said their dustbins were stolen and others just do not see it as a problem because the waste is collected by the council,” he said.
Onn believes the residents knew it was wrong to dump waste indiscriminately. Their behaviour only changes with strict enforcement.
“All 31 offenders in Sungai Way actually paid the summonses issued by the Petaling Jaya City Council,” he said.
Why do they do it
Perdana University clinical psychologist and lecturer at Darlina Hani Fadil Azim said the public must not assume that their so called “bad” neighbours were aware about their habits were affecting ties with others.
Darlina suggested those who are not in good terms with their neighbours to send a note expressing their concerns about issues like dumping waste at another’s compound.
She said being friendly and spreading kindness to neighbours has its benefits especially in this sort of instances.
“It is natural for people to want to reciprocate. One is unlikely to do bad things to those who are nice to them,” said Darlina Hani.
“A note can put time and distance between you and your neighbours. It provides time to calm down and respond rationally,” .
It is also good to speak about the problem in a rationale manner.
“Don’t assume they know what the problem is. Tell them what is bothering you. Stay cool, calm and be positive. Be direct when you speak and back it up with evidence, if any. Propose a solution and be open to ask for their input,” she said.
Possible reasons for the action can be due to lack of responsibility and ownership of their neighbourhood. Probably the culprit does not see the effects of littering. A dirty place also attracted more rubbish, said Darlina.
She said the “out of sight, out of mind” saying could also best describe the behaviour of serial dumpers. Due to lack of responsibility, these people do not care what happens to their waste.
“They do not care if the waste lands in the drains or our rivers and sea. Neither do they care how the waste affects nature, land or marine life. They do not think of the bigger picture,” she said.
What the authorities say
The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) will issue summons up to RM1,000 and a jail term not more than a year when a person is caught dumping rubbish at non-designated places.
The offence falls under the Local Government Act, 1976, under the provisions for refuse collection, removal and disposal by-laws 2007.
Petaling Jaya mayor Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said the council regarded rubbish dumping as a serious offence.
He said residents who had CCTV footage or evidence of offenders dumping waste at non-designated places could lodge a report with the council.
“We can take action and issue a summon of up to RM1,000.
“We have caught many offenders through CCTV recordings and also through our site inspection. We sometimes place enforcement officers in plain clothes who nab the offenders red-handed,” he said.
From January to June, the council issued 96 compounds to those who dump construction waste and other types of waste.
Three vehicles were seized and seven offenders were caught in the act. Four cases were brought to the court.
In 2015, the council identified 12 locations with waste dumping problem and has since declared 10 locations as resolved.
The council is monitoring Jalan 14/4, Jalan 17/31 and Jalan 21/19A in Petaling Jaya for illegal waste dumping.