By Pearl Lee
A problem is often ignored and regarded petty until tragedy strikes.
Over the past two weeks, there have been two tragic deaths in the Klang Valley as a result of the lack of apathy and blatant disregard for the safety of others.
The first case is that of 15-year-old S. Sathiswaran, who died on Jan 15 after a chair thrown from an upper floor of the people’s housing project (PPR) in Lembah Pantai, Kuala Lumpur struck his head.
The life of a teenager, described by neighbours as one of the friendliest boys in the neighbourhood, was cut short moments after accompanying his mother to buy groceries.
Acts of throwing objects out from flats have been going on for decades.
There have been reports of refrigerators, televisions, bed frames, bottles and even mattresses being thrown down from the corridors and windows of flat units in Kuala Lumpur.
The Federal Territories Ministry says this is the first time a death has been recorded as a result of a falling object.
Sathiswaran’s death, now classified as murder, should serve as a reminder for those living in high-rise buildings who have been taking the easy way out to get rid of their trash.
Instead it looks like even death is no longer a deterrent following reports of a similar incident in Kuala Lumpur barely two days after Sathiswaran’s death.
A general worker who was sweeping the ground floor futsal court in the Putra Ria Apartments in Jalan Bangsar escaped unhurt after a chair thrown from an upper floor narrowly missed his head on Jan 17.
Even the dead are not given due respect.
In 2011, some residents of a five-storey flat in Kepong turned a Chinese cemetery next door into a landfill as they were too lazy to walk down the stairs to dispose of their garbage the proper way. This had apparently been going on for five years.
Human rights and child activist James Nayagam says the problem stems from the mentality of residents.
Many of those in low-cost flats were formerly from squatter areas.
“They take their old ways to their new homes and do as they please,” he said, describing how those living in squatters had for years found it normal to discard their waste from the comfort of their kitchen doors and windows.
While local councils can take precautions like installing safety nets, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs), grilles and awnings, some people will continue taking the easy way out unless there is a shift in mindset.
A change in mentality should also be seen when addressing the problem of potholes.
On Jan 11, P. Sarojah died on the way to work after the motorcycle she was riding went into a 0.5m-deep pothole in Telok Gong, Klang.
The 48-year-old died on the spot after sustaining serious head injuries during the 6.20am incident.
Videos showing the spot where Sarojah died were widely shared on social media with many claiming potholes are synonymous with Klang.
It’s mind-boggling that the authorities have viewed the pothole problem as something petty. Many a time, it has taken weeks if not months for a pothole to be patched up after a complaint is made.
While councils collect millions in revenue, one wonders why fixing potholes is not prioritised despite it being a major safety hazard, especially for motorcyclists.
The authorities often give the excuse of lack of funds and the buck is passed between local and federal authorities.
The blatant disregard for the safety of others had in the past prompted groups like Ikatan Silatulrahim Brotherhood to use their own funds to repair potholes.
Former Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was removed from office four years ago and one of the reasons cited was his inability to resolve the pothole menace.
Newsflash! The potholes are still around in many areas in the state!
It remains to be seen if it will be resolved in the next four years.
Sarojah is not the first to have died in such manner. Others have suffered a similar fate.
From falling objects to dangerous roads, it is hoped the powers that be address these ‘petty’ issues. We don’t want to read or hear of such tragic deaths anymore.
Pearl is an award winning journalist. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @pearllee22