Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What kind of man is this?

I remember seeing a scene from The Godfather Part II movie when a mobster tells his friends "When a man reaches the twilight of his life he recollects things he did in the past". Well, I am 58 years old and I have a lot of recollections. For the next few days I want to post my recollections, good or bad.

In the early 90s I was in charge of the town cleansing section of my department. In simple terms I had to see that the rubbish were collected, the drains cleaned and the grass cut.

The habit of throwing rubbish indiscriminately is an ever present habit among Malaysians. But when it becomes a behavioural pattern it is something of a concern especially to someone in my position. This was what exactly happened in a small part of Seremban in the early 1990s. 

A part of Jalan Tok Ungku and the access road from it to Taman Rasah Jaya was littered with rubbish in the form of torn newspapers and food packets every three to four days. It took only a worker less than an hour to clear them, but when this had become a pattern it worried me. The worker could be send somewhere else doing other things.

The pattern and frequency of the littering showed that this must be the work of the same person or persons. Why only that stretch of road? Why it occurred only every three or four days and not every day? From the newspapers thrown away my only clue was the person or persons throwing the rubbish and newspapers must be Chinese. So I ordered my subordinate in charge of the area to look for more clues. 

The problem became more serious when my boss saw the rubbish one morning and called me. After explaining to him about the situation he ordered me to do whatever could be done to stop this problem.

So I formed a team among my subordinates to do night lookouts. During these lookouts they were provided with walkie-talkies and I was listening to them at home. I even switched on my walkie-talkie during my sleep. Still nothing!

So I decided to get personally involved. After calculating the length of road involved compared to the number of men I had I decided that I need more. So I approached the enforcement unit's boss who gave me two more men complete with walkie-talkies. To facilitate movements I ordered everyone to come with a motorcycle. That included me.

So on the night of the operation I brought my men to a nearby stall and fed them with food and drinks. This is a form of Malaysia Boleh policy where you eat first before going to work. There I showed them on a piece of paper where every man should be stationed. We would be hiding behind bushes but with the ability to focus attention on the road. We would be watching for anybody throwing rubbish. The first person seeing this would alert the others. That's the strategy.

So we sat there and waited. To pass our time we talked rubbish on our walkie-talkies.  Afer all we were looking for rubbish. Mosquitoes were having a good meal on us.

Just after midnight one of my men shouted on the walkie-talkie after seeing rubbish being thrown from a car. He gave details of the car. Then another man shouted seeing the same thing. So I ordered everyone to follow the car.

Then I saw what was really happening. Rubbish which were wrapped in newspapers were being dropped one by one in the middle of the road by the driver of the car. Other cars passing by would smash these newspapers and the rubbish they contained into bits flying around before landing on the road itself, the kerb and road side tables. What a sight?

We picked whatever packets which were still intact and followed the car. To our surprise the car stopped at the very stall where we had our food and discussions earlier. We confronted the driver who was an old Chinese man of about 50 who vehemently denied our accusations. 

We looked inside the car and there seated on the front passenger seat was a woman who I guessed must be his wife. Between her legs were two more wrapped packets which were similar to those we managed to salvage. Throughout our arguments she did not utter a word but I noticed a guilty look on her face.

When we asked for the man's identity card he refused. Because we have no authority to ask for identity cards I had no choice but to issue a compound notice to him based on his car registration number and we pasted the notice on his car's windscreen. The we left.

One of my men said he knew where the man stayed. So the next morning after reporting this matter to my boss I went to the couple's house. The house looked clean with a few caged birds in the veranda. Nobody was home but when I checked the house's refuse chamber at the back, sure enough I found no rubbish inside. The chamber looked like it had never been used.

Although the man was denying what we accused him, to my surprise a few days later somebody came to my office and settled the compound notice. In other words the man admitted his guilt. So the following is my deduction of what happened:
  1. The couple were the only occupants of the house which is a double-storey link unit.

  2. They keep caged birds which of course produced droppings. These droppings were temporarily collected on newspapers laid below the cages.

  3. After a few days intervals the newspapers were turned into packets which wrapped other household refuses. I still wonder whether this couple cooked at home.

  4. The packets were put in front of the front passenger's seat where the wife usually sat.

  5. The couple then drove out for supper or just for the purpose of disposing the rubbish.

  6. At the right spots the wife would pass the packets to the husband who was driving. He then just dropped the packages into the centre of the road.

  7. The packages were then smashed by passing cars.
So I come back to my topic "What kind of man is this?".

Since then I made occasional checks on the particular stretch of road and adjoining areas. There were no more cases of indiscriminate disposal of rubbish done in patterns. If somebody is to ask me about the most satisfying moment of my entire career I will tell him the above story.


Anonymous said...

well done are the true malaysia hero.

M Radzi Desa said...

I wonder why he did what he did. Why don't he just put the rubbish in the normal rubbish bin or dumpster?