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Something has to change

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WHEN I WAS first approached to be a columnist in Sin Chew, I was thrilled! I know this would be a great opportunity for me to communicate my thoughts and views to thousands of Malaysian readers.

Yet at the same time, I was apprehensive of the fact that I may struggle jotting down my somewhat limited experience in public service. I do not believe I am a good writer. An honest writer- yes but not a natural writer.

Prior to winning the elections, I have never been involved in public service. At the age of 29, I had my ideals of how this nation should be, how my tax should be used by the government, how Malaysians ought to behave in order to be a truly civilised society etc. The issues I had to deal with as an assemblyman opened my eyes to the ugly side of our society – something I was not prepared to see.

Just last evening, I was having a casual chat with my Malay neighbour who happens to be a lecturer of a local college. He was telling me of his plans to migrate with his family. When asked why, he said Malaysia is in a sad state of affairs. The people here have stopped caring for each other. Just as we were standing outside our houses, in the midst of this conversation, a lavish car was speeding past us – in a housing area, in the evening, when there are many children playing outside. He said : “This is precisely why I’m thinking of leaving! This person driving this car is definitely well to do and should be able to understand how to be considerate and look out for others.”

As we continued our conversation, we spoke about illegal dumping. Few days ago, I noticed that someone had dumped his/her old furniture outside my house. My neighbour went on to tell me that he had seen who the person was and that this person too is a lecturer!

I drive around my neighbourhood very frequently, for one reason – to check on the performance of the Alam Flora contractors.

But this article is not about the contractors, I will explore this another time. When I drive around, I frequently notice the illegal dumping trend happening even in an urban constituency like Subang Jaya. Neighbours would throw furniture and rubbish by the side of the road, often times in front of another’s house and not their own. My husband calls this the “anywhere but my backyard” syndrome.

This is a very selfish mindset. I have seen people driving Mercedes and yet throw rubbish out of their posh car. I have seen motorcyclists littering too. I have seen with my own eyes Malays, Chinese and Indians littering too. It has nothing to do with race, status or whether you are educated or not. Something has to change.

Some examples of selfish behaviour I have encountered:

- “We want LRT, you can build it anywhere but not in front of my house.”

- “Futsal court is good for the children; you can build it in front of those neighbours’ houses but not in front of my house.”

- “Crime is rising and neighbours should patrol the streets; I will support you but count me out from walking.”

- “Composting bins should be promoted by MPSJ to educate our young but please place them somewhere else and not behind my house.”

This “anywhere but my backyard” syndrome has to go. We need to start thinking for others and not just for those in our households. We need to start thinking, acting and functioning as a society. Love your neighbour as you love yourself. Changing the government is not enough.

The people have to change their mindset as well. The "First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality" Malaysian malaise has to go. Something has to change. Someone has to change. And only then will we truly be a developed nation. HONESTLY SPEAKING By HANNAH YEOH

(HANNAH YEOH is DAP Selangor assemblywoman for Subang Jaya)

MySinchew 2009.07.11


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