In 2018, Malaysians generated a whopping 38, 142 tonnes of waste per day (it was 19, 000 tonnes of waste a day in 2005). However, this data for municipal solid waste does not include construction and manufacturing waste. And it seems like, unfortunately, a majority of this waste is ending up in our rivers.
Social media posts by Malaysian actress Maya Karin show the ‘Pontianak’ actress standing in front of a rubbish-lined river. Despite holding up a peace sign, the actresses expression is solemn. In her tweet, she criticises litterbugs by saying,
“Amongst the causes of the great flood, is garbage that was dumped arbitrarily .. drains and waterways are blocked by garbage. Okay, nevermind, keep throwing as you wish. It will be at our own cost.”
Antara punca banjir hebat, sampah dibuang sewenang wenangya.. longkang dan saluran air kena block dengan sampah. Ok tak pe, keep buang sesuka hati. At our own cost nanti. #jangancakapakaktakpayung pic.twitter.com/x7rMm82pbo
— Maya Karin (@maya_karin) September 15, 2020
The award-winning actress is an eco-activist and has even successfully raised awareness about the cleanliness and purity of Malaysian streams and rivers with the #MayaKarinChallenge, in which people are seen submerging themselves in bodies of water.
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2 tahun sudah saya fight dan cuba memberi kesedaran tentang sungai bersih dan sihat. Demi alam dan demi kami sendiri. Tapi terlalu ramai yang buat acuh tak acuh. Bila 4 hari Selangor tak de air disebabkan sungai tercemar baru semua bising… where do you think our water comes from? #thinkaboutit #fikirkan #riveroflife #mayakarinchallenge #hutanbelum #mandisungai
Of her work, she states,
“[Scientists and environmentalists] are so busy doing what they do, they don’t have the time to promote their work. Then, there are young people who do not know where to go. So, I am really hoping that I can be a link between the two and make them more productive.”
Seeing her post with the dirty river, the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS) retweeted the image alongside other images of rivers covered in garbage. They captioned the tweet,
“Last year, Maya Karin saw the condition of our rivers that were filled with rubbish; this year try to see the rivers/flood reservoir pond full of garbage after the flash flood recedes.”
Sampai bila nak ade sikap yang begini. Sila teliti jenis-jenis sampah yang anda dapat lihat. Sampah semulajadi atau sampah dari tangan manusia?
— JPS Malaysia (@DID_Malaysia) September 15, 2020
Included in the picture set is the image of their employees in a small boat as they go about their jobs cleaning the rivers. Speaking to the Malay Mail, JPS River Basin Management Division director Md Khairi Selamat explained that one of the cleaning methods they employ is to dispatch crews to “manually dispatching collect the garbage and where it will then be disposed properly”. In the tweet, the too condemned litterbugs, saying,
“Until when will we continue with this attitude. Please take a look at all the types of garbage you can see. Natural waste or waste from human hands?”
In a separate article by The Star, a worker for the Penang Irrigation and Drainage Department shared that members of the team work 10 hours a day to clean up the trash – comprising of everything from daily trash to refrigerators, mattresses and even carcasses.
Practice the 3R’s: ‘Reduce’, ‘Reuse’ and ‘Recycle’ to avoid a bigger mess in the future. After all, we only have one Earth.