TALK is cheap, but actions mean everything. Instead of pointing fingers at litterbugs for disposing of rubbish indiscriminately, a group of youths in Ipoh took it upon themselves to remind people that civic-mindedness should start with oneself.
Clad in exercise attire, sneakers and armed with garbage bags, gloves and tongs for picking up trash, they jogged around the streets of Ipoh and diligently hunted down rubbish.
Their recent outing on a weekend evening yielded an abundant return, with over 30 bags of rubbish collected in less than 90 minutes.
“In fact, much more rubbish was picked up as the jogging went on throughout the evening.
“Some of the participants who were stationed at a parking lot were surprised at the amount of rubbish there alone,” said Bobo Foo Hua Bin, one of the people who suggested the initiative that combines exercising and cleaning up the city.
Dubbed ‘JOGJap Bersihkan Ipoh’, about 50 people took part in the maiden outing and went around Jalan Bijih Timah and the Old Town area, Jalan Lahat, Little India, and parts of the Kinta riverfront.
Foo said he initially expected about 10 people to join him when he shared the event on Facebook and was surprised by the actual turnout.
“Our efforts are not aimed at blaming anyone for littering, but we want to increase awareness of the importance of taking care of the cleanliness of the places where we live and work.
“We were inspired when we saw how Japanese football fans astonished the world by cleaning the stadium where Japan played Colombia during the Fifa World Cup 2018, and how the spirit was emulated a few hours later by the Senegal and Poland fans who also cleaned up their stadium.
“It clearly shows that people have the power to bring about positive change quickly. Our group, which is proudly ‘Ipoh mali’ and Malaysians should emulate this positive attitude.
“If every one of us take it upon ourselves to not litter and pick up rubbish whenever we see them, it is going to be a great force of change for our society,” enthused Foo, adding that events such as JOGJap Bersihkan Ipoh also foster social cohesiveness beyond just keeping the environment clean.
The 30-year-old from Gunung Rapat said that the group is planning to hold similar outings on the first Sunday in August and September covering different areas in the city.
“We will request participants to wear similar colours because we want people to be curious of what we are doing. We hope that they will ask, find out and be influenced to do the same for their own communities.
“This is how we create the ripple effect to educate members of the public about civic mindedness.
“It is also our hope that in less than six months, people’s attitudes will change and we won’t have to keep doing JOGJap Bersihkan Ipoh anymore,” said Foo, adding that those interested to join the future outings can stay tuned to its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/JogJapIpoh.
Foo said, the refuse that was picked up was mostly cigarette butts, tissue paper and also used parking tickets.
“We will prepare a detailed report and submit it to State Tourism, Arts and Culture Committee Chairman Tan Kar Hing, together with suggestions to improve the situation,” Foo added.
Tan, who also took part in the outing with his family, said that it was a wonderful way for the young to be a responsible citizens.
“Ipoh receives many tourists every day. So the city’s cleanliness affects their first impression.
“Ipoh used to be the cleanest city in Malaysia. However, things changed in recent years and the situation needs a lot of improvement. These days the tourist hotspots in the Old Town area are often strewn with rubbish.
“The public attitude that it is solely the responsibility of council workers to clean up the streets must change. People must not litter in the first place,” he said.
Tan noted that Malaysians on average produces 800g of rubbish per person per day, equating to 22,000 tonnes of rubbish every day across the country.
“Only 10% of the waste is being recycled so far and it is still a far cry from the target of 22%.
“I think that law enforcement on littering should also be strengthened,” he said, adding that he will bring it up with the Ipoh City Council (MBI).
One of the participants, Darrel Lee, 43, suggested MBI distribute wheelie bins to businesses around the Old Town area so that tourists and visitors do not litter.
“MBI could make it a condition for businesses to take care of the bins and MBI can periodically collect the rubbish,” he said, adding that the same concept could also be used in residential areas.
Lee said such efforts have proven successful in other areas such as his wife’s hometown of Melaka and it should be adopted here.
“There are many residences and commercial outlets in Ipoh, and people often take the easy way out by littering indiscriminately, partly due to lack of bins,” he added.
Another participant, Xia Huo Ching, 42, who took part with his eight-year-old son, lauded the event and said it felt great doing something for his hometown.
“I hesitated a bit when I saw this event on Facebook, but I was determined to come when my son said that we must be there because it was a good initiative.
“This is the first time we have taken part in a community event like this, where got hands-on doing something for Ipoh,” Xia said.
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