In today’s fast-moving society, we are all busy going about our daily activities. Our morning routine will begin when we wake up with the aid of our mobile phone alarm and proceed to carry out our other chores using the utilities provided by Tenaga Nasional Bhd and Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor or Syabas, as well as the services of sewerage company Indah Water Konsortium.

After breakfast, we dump our food waste into the trash bin, knowing fully well that the local authority or waste management company Alam Flora Sdn Bhd will send its trucks to collect our household garbage three times a week.

On the way to work, we notice that our streets are swept clean and well-maintained. The trees are pruned and drains are clean. Indeed, we are served by utility providers 24/7, 365 days without fail.

I am just examining my conscience and wondering whether or not I appreciate all those wonderful services that are being provided behind the scenes. Why do many of us take these things for granted, instead of appreciating what we see and receive daily?

Do we take the trouble to send a good morning greeting to the utility company chief executive officer or the head of the local authority for their services? Do we ever greet the garbage collector or thank them for doing a good job?

Although these service providers are on hand to provide us with various services to make our lives more comfortable, they also need our help to maintain or upgrade their services.

Do we report to them when there is a problem? How many of us take the trouble to call TNB, Syabas or Alam Flora when something is not right?

Do we take the trouble to report a faulty street lamp or traffic light by simply dialling 1515 to contact TNB, or do we leave it to someone else to call them?

Not only do we fail to appreciate such conveniences, but I am also compelled to say that most of us have the familiar tidak apa or couldn’t-care-less attitude.

The broken and dented road dividers on the federal highway is a horrible sight to look at. I have also noticed that the grass verges on the side of roads under the care of the Public Works Department are not maintained properly. Why is this so?

If every Malaysian takes the trouble to report a fallen tree after a thunderstorm or call the local authority if they come across illegal dumping, I can safely say that our nation will be cleaner and more orderly. We have to be more conscientious if we want our service providers to be more proactive.

I think the fundamental question that begs an answer is why we tend to ignore a problem and why we fail to acknowledge a good deed.

For instance, we know or have read about the clean and well-maintained restrooms in the rest and recreation areas along the North-South Expressway. In fact, they are our country’s best public toilets.

However, I have yet to read a letter praising the highway concessionaire PLUS Malaysia Bhd for their great service.

For every complaint lodged by a person, there are 200 others who have ignored it or have just let the issue pass. This is the flip side of our society.

Our education system must educate students on the importance of making a complaint if something is wrong or paying a compliment when something is right.

This is an important component to be adopted in order to create a society which is concerned about its environment and rights and is ready to reprimand shirkers who ignore their responsibilities.

If every Malaysian takes this little effort to complain if he or she finds something is not right in their neighbourhood or pay a compliment to those who are doing a great job, we will witness a sea change in the environment or in any service sector.

Recently, I was invited to the Asean International Construction Exhibition held at a premier exhibition hall near Jalan Duta, here.

When I entered the gate to the parking lot, the Touch & Go service was not working and the car park was poorly lit. Inside the building, there was poor signage indicating where the function rooms and toilets were located.

For an exhibition centre that can accommodate more than 10,000 people at a time, there were very few parking vending machines. And, the food truck operators over there charge very high prices for their food and beverages.

I made it a point to write a note to the CEO of the centre and the very next day, I was pleasantly surprised when two women from the centre’s public relations and sales department contacted me to say that they would attend to my feedback immediately.

This is so encouraging and I feel that the centre will do well if these basic matters are handled in a professional manner. The CEO was also extremely grateful to the feedback provided to him.

I am not writing about this to earn some brownie points but to share an experience which will be a learning curve for anyone who is concerned about his environment, neighbourhood and ultimately livelihood.

For our nation to become greater, we must be more vigilant. We must monitor our country’s progress to ensure that its
development programmes are carried out in a sustainable manner.

Sustainability starts when society becomes more responsible for the well-being of a nation.

I will end with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

The writer Ravindran Raman Kutty is an award-winning communications practitioner and a fellow of the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia.