The other day the Brunei State Mufti was talking about dogs in Hyde Park in London. Caught your attention, didn’t I? Anyway, he wasn't talking about the dogs per se but he was talking about the dog owners. He saw them picking up after the dogs and actually putting the droppings into a plastic bag. He even saw one guy putting the bag into his pocket. His point was that these people are responsible. They are willing to even clean up after the dogs and not leave the park dirty. He asked why in Brunei we have difficulty in keeping the country as clean. After all cleanliness is half of iman.
I have to agree with him. A lot of the work keeping Brunei clean is due to the number of people employed by the Environment, Parks and Recreation Department (Jabatan Alam Sekitar, Taman dan Rekreasi - JASTRE). We don't normally see them. They work late at night when no one is looking. If you drive around during the evening, sometime you see them. Workers with motorcycles too are employed. They go round picking up the various cans and other litters dropped along the roadsides. Even our roads are cleaned late at night when the big trucks with the brushes come round. The workers are particularly effective during the huge crowds in any Bandar gathering. In the evening, you would see tons of garbage, plastic bags, lychee skins etc but by morning, things would be sparkling clean.
It gives the impression that Brunei is a clean country. However take out these people; we may be walking through seas of garbage. Why is it difficult sometimes to walk the extra few feet or even inches to place the garbage properly in the refuse bin? The other day I was at the hospital and across the corridors I saw this boy throwing orange peelings from the third floor all the way down to the ground in front of his parents. No reactions whatsoever from the parents. What were they thinking of? Garbage will disappear by themselves?
If you go round certain areas in the resettlement areas - you would see certain places being used as dumping sites. Our papers and media have highlighted these often enough. These people must have thought these places are magical. Dump something, watch the garbage grow slowly and one day the garbage will all magically disappear. If the garbage can disappear once, the next lot will disappear too, and the next lot and the next lot. We are caught in this cycle. Not cleaning up after them would mean that everyone would suffer. But cleaning up after them gives them the lesson that they can keep repeating the same thing.
Some have argued that there are not enough refuse collection points. Some have argued that there are actually enough refuse collection companies but these people are not willing to pay for the services and want the services for free. I am tempted to think it is more the latter though I could be wrong. Some of the refuse collection companies too are not as reliable as one may think. The one servicing ours sometimes disappear for a couple of weeks. It's not a perfect world. But we should all play our part in keeping Brunei clean and not wait for others to do it for us. The cleaner our country is the better impression we will give. We have to do our bit to support Visit Brunei Year 2008.