WHEN it is time to go home, most people will just pack their bags and leave but one man in Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) goes to collect recyclables from the streets after office hours.
Aiman Firdaus Shamsuri, 32, who works in MBPJ’s Health Department, realised that there were “precious” waste lying around in the city. He joined the council eight years ago.
“Areas such as Petaling Jaya Old Town, Bukit Gasing and Section 52 near where I work always have rubbish that can be sold at the recycling centres. I often find cardboards which I will sell at the recycling centre during my lunch break.
“If I find any vintage items I will sell at the flea market,” he said. He donates to charity a portion of the money he gets from selling recyclable items.
Aiman was among 10 recipients of the Petaling Jaya Unsung Hero Award by MBPJ for their outstanding green initiatives and community outreach activities.
Recipients were mostly Petaling Jaya residents who showcased outstanding contributions to their neighbourhood.
They received the awards from Petaling Jaya mayor Datuk Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain.
The ceremony was witnessed by deputy mayor Johary Anuar and MBPJ Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Department director Lee Lih Shyan.
Growing up in Terengganu, Angeela Yeo has managed to spread her “kampung” camaraderie among her urban neighbours in Bandar Utama 6.
Besides monitoring neighbourhood cleanliness, Yeo, 55, helps to knock on the doors of the residents when MBPJ’s recycling waste contractors arrive for collection.
“It is easier when I go with the contractor. I also speak to residents that do not recycle and explain why they need to,” said Yeo, who formerly worked as a senior consultant in a logistics company.
She said her neighbourhood was special because the residents would gather for exercise sessions every morning. Once a week, residents catch up over breakfast and tea. The neighbourhood is active in security and gotong-royong programmes.
“It is good even if we have 20% of the residents’ support. This makes it easier for us to work with the council and the police.
“Every day the police will visit at least one park in the Bandar Utama area. We make an effort to foster good ties with the police and the council,” she said.
Cancer survivor Mashrifah Rahim, 56, from Section 22/23, does not hesitate to confront anyone she sees dumping garbage illegally in her neighbourhood.
“Sometimes the culprits come here to dump their garbage at night. Once a lorry driver even challenged me to snap his picture when he was dumping the waste.
“A former neighbour once dumped a large amount of rubbish on the roadside here when he was moving out. When I confronted him, he said he did not care. I managed to get the council to clear the rubbish later.
“I also managed to get the council to put up a ‘No Dumping’ signboard at the spot,” said Mashrifah.
Another award recipient is SS22A resident Lim Chin Kah, who keeps an eye on work done by council-appointed contractors.
Lim, 63, a retiree from the plantation sector who has been living in Petaling Jaya for 40 years, said he would, during his morning walks, look out for areas that needed attention.
“I monitor the contractors and give feedback to the council if I see slipshod job being done.
“One thing I am thankful for is that my neighbours often come together to carry out gotong-royong to keep our residential area clean,” he added.
He suggested that the council hire one contractor for both the cleaning and waste collection. He said that would prevent the contractors from blaming others.
Former income tax officer, Eileen Thong, 72, is an active participant in council-related activities.
Thong, the chairman of SS20 Damansara Utama Rukun Tetangga, often shares her knowledge with her neighbours. She had spearheaded numerous environment and security-related activities for residents and works closely with a school in the community.
“I once joined a trip to the landfill. No one wanted to go from my neighbourhood. I went there thinking I knew everything about waste. I was wrong. I was shocked to see the amount of plastic and other items that could have been recycled.
“I saw people scavenging for things in the landfill to be sold for recycling.
“It convinced met that recycling should be done at source, which is the home. This will reduce the amount of waste that goes to the landfill,” said the grandmother of four, who wants to continue her active involvement in her community.
Section 10 Residents Association president Ronald Danker has been living in the neighbourhood for 45 years. Recently, the active senior citizen together with several of his neighbours conducted their own investigation and identified the culprit who dumped office renovation garbage in his neighbourhood.
“We also had the problem of residents dumping waste at the road kerb next to corner-lot houses. We advised the houseowner to plant trees at the sides, which has helped to stop this bad habit.
“We also actively remove illegal bunting and banners in our area,” said Danker, who was happy to be recognised by MBPJ as an unsung hero.
Other recipients of the award were Roslan Ab Ghani from PJU5, Muhammad Fuad Jam Jam from Taman Medan, Jefri Awaludin from SS8 Kelana Jaya and a dedicated foreign worker, Osman Gani.