Get media involved as last resort

  • Metro News
  • Saturday, 11 Jan 2020

The DBKL call centre has been set up to receive complaints on all sorts of issues affecting residents. — Filepic

THE taps in my neighbourhood went dry recently and there was no notification from Air Selangor.

Usually when this happens, it is almost always due to a pipe burst.

This is understandable as the pipes in my township are about 40 to 50 years old.

The SOP (standard operating procedure) in my household is to call Air Selangor customer service at 1800-88-5352.

This number, along with other service hotlines, is pasted on my fridge to call in case of an emergency.

Usually I am the one who makes these calls when I am at home. But when I am out, that task falls to my husband or mother.

It is important to notify the authorities as soon as possible so that they can send a team to fix the problem.

But as always, it is during water and power cuts that the phone in my house rings non-stop with queries from friends and neighbours who want to know why there is no water, when is the water or electricity supply expected to resume, and whether I could help get a water tanker despatched to their homes soon.

In recent times, my mother even received calls from friends asking if a certain building in the heart of the city was going to collapse!

There was one time when a neighbour, whom we barely spoke to for the past 17 years since

moving to the area, came knocking on our door in the wee hours of the morning, pleading with my husband to call the Fire and Rescue Department as there had been a small fire in their kitchen.

Apparently, they did not have the department’s number.

Then across the street, there was one neighbour who was upset that Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had not trimmed the trees in front of her house for months, so she asked my mother to get me to call the local authority to take the necessary action.

You see, they know that I work in the media and think I can help resolve their problems.

I get it. As a journalist, apart from reporting the news and investigating issues, an integral part of my job is taking calls from members of the public who seek our assistance in getting their problems resolved.

It is also my job to respond to emails from people all over the Klang Valley seeking help to resolve issues that range from illegal renovations and noise pollution at construction sites to uncollected rubbish and abandoned vehicles.

I even took a call from a woman who wanted help lodging a complaint with DBKL about a neighbour who refused to cut her overgrown bushes which became a nuisance for the complainant.

I asked the woman if she had reported it to the local authority and she claimed that she did not know how to do so.

In my personal opinion, the key to being a good journalist and citizen is not just in listening to people’s problems and helping to resolve them, but also empowering the public to help themselves.

Having been with the media for many years, I have encountered all types of people — from the ones willing to go the extra mile to resolve issues in their neighbourhood and those who want others to do the job for them to the “tidak apa” ones who are not bothered with anything.

I advise residents to exhaust all channels to get their complaints addressed before approaching the media for help.

Firstly, this is because we receive hundreds of emails daily and it takes time to sort through everything, and secondly there is the need for accountability.

With the advent of technology and social media, it is relatively quite easy today for citizens to get their concerns across to the local authorities.

In fact, local authorities like DBKL have a hotline to receive public complaints. By dialling the toll-free number 1-800-88-3255, residents can channel their complaints here.

DBKL uses the Integrated Public Agency Complaints Monitoring System or i-SPAAA, which allows it to monitor all complaints received and address them accordingly.

The system also ensures that call centre officers reply to the complainant in no later than three days.

In fact, the system allows the public to check the status of their complaints online, thanks to the reference number provided for every complaint lodged.

I advise the public to try and make a conscious effort to report their concerns via the hotline first, and, if all else fails, that is when the media steps in.

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