Dirty side of living as a community

Ground floor of Teluk Indah flats in Prai has served as a rubbish dump for years, making it the dirtiest in the country

25 Jan 2021 / 12:05 H.

PETALING JAYA: Community living requires a certain level of cooperation and a sense of responsibility among residents. Without it, a lot can go wrong.

That is exactly what is happening at two blocks of flats in Teluk Indah (pix), Prai in Penang.

For years, the ground floor served as a huge rubbish dump, earning it the unenviable tag as the “dirtiest flats” in the country.

A video of the trash went viral recently, prompting authorities to launch a quick clean-up effort.

The lifts, which have not been working for years, have also been repaired but other problems remain, such as unpaid utility bills that have exceeded RM2 million.

As always, the first reaction of most bystanders is to point the finger at foreigners, particularly migrant workers. However in this case, 70% of the residents are Malaysians.

National Housebuyers Association secretary-general Datuk Chang Kim Loong attributes the problem to two factors, the lack of civic consciousness among residents and the ineffectiveness of the joint management body (JMB).

“The onus is on the residents living in the building to play their role, to keep the place in a condition that is conducive for occupancy,” Chang told theSun. “In this case, ignorance is not an excuse.

“Members of the JMB are entrusted with the responsibility to upkeep the common area, and in this case, they have obviously failed,” he added.

Chang said the problem could have also been caused by a combination of bad planning, corruption and expediency.

Worse than the of lack of civic consciousness and failure of leadership are allegations of mismanagement of funds, and even involvement of hoodlums in the affairs of the Teluk Indah flats.

P. David Marshel, a member of the Seberang Prai City Council, said there is suspicion of corruption and that gangsters are behind the racket. However, these allegations could not be independently verified by theSun.

Marshel said many campaigns have been organised to get residents to take care of the surroundings, but to no avail.

“Their mentality just won’t change.”

However, R. Veerasamy , 67, who lives at the flats, said residents have no choice but to throw rubbish from their apartments to the ground floor because the lifts were not working.

“The majority of the people here do it anyway,” he added.

Prai assemblyman Dr P. Ramasamy said the biggest problem is the refusal of residents to pay maintenance fees, which is essential to underwrite the utility bills for common facilities and cost of maintenance.

He estimated that he has already paid more than RM1 million in electricity bills for the past 10 years, and residents still owe between RM300,000 and RM1 million in water bills.

“The electricity supply for the lifts and lights in the common area was cut years ago,” added Ramasamy, who is also Penang Deputy Chief Minister II.

According to Halim Ahmad and Fera Muhammad, who are members of JMB in residential apartment buildings in Kuala Lumpur, proper financial management and penalties for non-payment of fees are essential to ensure everything runs smoothly.

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