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It is useless to be wiser after the fact

November 7, 2017

As long as enforcement is lax, we are nowhere to solving problems that affect our society.


depress-man-banjirNow, suddenly, everybody has become wiser. The monsoon drains should be wider and bigger; rubbish shouldn’t be thrown into the drains; the planning bylaws, especially on hillside developments, must be complied with; the density ratio should be observed and enforcement must be strictly carried out.

But I can tell you this: we are getting no wiser. We will soon forget the whole incident and move on as usual after a month or so. This is who we are; we will remain foolish and the cycle of tragedy will go on ad indefinitum.

The same applies to fatal road accidents, water contamination of our catchment areas, hygiene, public health, contagions and outbreaks.

We will talk about them for a while when a major incident occurs but in no time they will be forgotten.

The reality is we can’t solve all these problems in dribs and drabs. We need comprehensive bylaws, constant monitoring and strict enforcement every day. We need to impose punishments on violators without fear or favour and imminently.

How many times has water contamination happened in Johor and Selangor? How many times have the authorities taken actions or threatened to take action?

I can repeat the same causes and provide the same explanations for all the contamination — unauthorised discharge of effluents from the nearby factories. But would this make a difference?

For fatal accidents, I can repeat the same causes too — speeding, driving under the influence, drivers working long hours and faulty vehicles.

For public health and hygiene, are we blind to the filth at restaurants and eateries and the breeding grounds for mosquitoes?

Which one of us has not seen rodents running around near eateries, rubbish left uncollected or stagnant water allowed to breed mosquitoes? We take food poisoning as a fact of life, do we not?

Whether it is a landslide, floods, food poisoning, accidents or water contamination, the solution lies with our “everyday governance”.

Do we have adequate bylaws to keep pace with new developments?

Do we have adequate mechanisms to ensure compliance of bylaws?

Do we have adequate monitoring mechanisms to identify violators?

Do we have a “corrupt-free” enforcement mechanism to punish offenders?

If we want a better society, we must inculcate habitual changes in corporations and individuals.

We must duly punish the offenders. But, more than that, I think it is time to punish the enforcement agencies as well if they fail to identify and nab habitual offenders under their jurisdiction.

It is either they are grossly inefficient or corrupt.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.


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