Dumping ethics for profits


  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 18 Mar 2003

By Mazilan MusaSenior Fellow and Director 

I WOULD like to share some of my depressing experiences travelling to Mukim Hulu Langat of Selangor recently. 

This area is one of the greener areas outside Kuala Lumpur. Despite being just over 16 km from the city, the economic activities are mainly agro-based. 

Mukim Hulu Langat, located south-east of the city, can be approached from two directions. One can follow the KL-Kajang trunk road and exit at Pekan Batu 9. Or one can take the Ampang road towards Ampang Tasik and go up the hill to Hulu Langat. 

On any good and sunny weekend, this rural and sleepy neighbourhood will burst into life. Slow moving cars will travel the narrow roads for many kilometres. The roads will be busier during the fruit seasons as the place is well-known for its durians.  

What attracts people to this area? Besides the seasonal durians, this area is a near-perfect place to unwind. Families can picnic at the waterfalls of Sungai Gabai and Sungai Congkak.  

Those who are into mountain climbing can scale the Gunung Nuang. 

As for keen cyclists, the undulating and winding roads are ideal for enhancing their endurance. City dwellers, including Mat Sallehs, flock here to cycle during the weekends.  

Mukim Hulu Langat is also a popular playground for the rich and famous, including dignitaries and corporate citizens. They entertain friends and business associates at their retreat houses in the dusuns

However, that is not the point I would like to highlight. Instead, I am gravely concerned about the scale of damage done to this beautiful area. 

During my frequent trips here, I found that domestic and industrial wastes were dumped by the roadsides, especially in the secluded hilly areas.  

The affected areas include the stretches from Ampang Tasik to Pekan Batu 14, Hulu Langat and from Kampong Sungai Tekali of Hulu Langat to the Semenyih Dam, which is part of the water supply system of Selangor.  

Looking at the amount of rubbish dumped into the area, one can easily suggest that it could not be the work of individual households. 

The rubbish comes in by the lorry loads. I found out from the locals that the household wastes were dumped by the waste collection contractors.  

In addition to the domestic wastes, the roadsides have also become dumping grounds for used building materials from demolition projects. These include wooden planks, broken concretes, steel rods and bars and even old toilet bowls.  

I am pretty sure similar sights are found elsewhere in this beautiful country. Who is to be blamed for them? 

I guess you already have the answer. Some people – again, some people - who are in the rubbish collection and construction businesses are the culprits. 

The greater issue here is the adverse impact of these dumped materials on the people and environment. First, it affects the aesthetic value of the beautiful area. 

The rubbish is really an eyesore and a minus point for the eco-tourism. Not to mention the stench coming from the rubbish.  

Second, it poses a threat to the health of the local population. The rubbish is a perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying vectors such as flies and rats. The occasional rubbish burnings also pollute the air. 

Thirdly, the dumped building materials might contain poisonous elements, such as asbestos, which could seep into the natural sources of drinking water used by the kampung folks.  

Some of the people in this area still resort to wells and natural springs for their supply of drinking water. Worse still, Sungai Langat and the Semenyih Dam supply water to the Klang Valley.  

What is the moral of the story? People need to be ethical in pursuing their commercial interests. 

Dumping the rubbish by the roadsides might be an effective way to cut costs and increase profits, but at whose expense? Everyone wants to make money, but let's not spoil our hands with these irresponsible acts.  

Business is such a noble job and Islam praises this profession so highly. It was narrated by al-Dailami that Prophet Muhammad said “Traders who are honest will be under the care of Allah on the Day of Judgment.” 

Why do we throw away what has been promised to us by Allah just for an extra few ringgit of profits? The answer is simple: Greed and short-sightedness. We are so greedy and self-centred to the extent that we do not care about others.  

The attitude is that “it is okay to dump the rubbish on the roadsides to save time and money. If you do not like the sight of the rubbish, find another route!” 

We are also very short-sighted in that we only care about the present. We do not care about the consequences of our carelessness on future generations. 

It is rather scary to think what will be left for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren if we continue to do this. 

So, where do we go from here? Definitely, effective enforcement by the relevant authorities is necessary. 

I am sure there are sufficient laws to act against these culprits. However, sometimes we just wonder where is the enforcement.  

Enforcement is temporary and short-term. People will revert to their old habits once the enforcement is relaxed.  

The more effective approach to combat these unethical business practices is through education. For example, the licensing authorities can make it compulsory for applicants to successfully complete a course in business ethics. 

The provisions of the existing laws also need to be reviewed. The above-mentioned malpractices must be treated as serious offences that could lead to the revocation of the licences.  

I think we need to evaluate ourselves and make a change to our business conduct. For the Muslims, it might be worth spending a minute or so to ponder upon the following verse of the Holy Quran: 

But seek, with the (wealth) which God has bestowed on thee, the home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world; but do thou good as God has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for God loves not those who do mischief” (Chapter al-Qasas verse 77). 

It is not too late to act before Mukim Hulu Langat and similar areas turn into Kalahari Deserts. 

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