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theSun | TUESDAY JULY 14 2009 TELLING IT AS IT IS œ 15

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MOST Malaysians might not have is an ardent campaigner of recycling

Phitsanulok – the city

heard of Phitsanulok, a city of about – both to save the environment and
160,000 people in Thailand. This is make a living.
understandable as the provincial He initiated the setting up of
capital is 377km north of Bangkok material collection centres, which
and does not have the tourist prod- he calls “recyclable banks”, in
ucts that Malaysians like. This is a schools, hospitals and other institu-
pity as there is a lot that one can tions. People who bring recyclable
learn from Phitsanulok.
It is very clean. Many have as-
serted that it is the cleanest city in
Thailand and among the cleanest in
Asia. Its cleanliness is not the result
of round-the-clock sweeping. Like
most cities, the garbage is collected
of recycling materials are paid for their efforts.
He has also helped many to set up
Wongpanit “franchises” all over
He has personally trained sev-
eral thousand Thais and others
about running a successful recy-
once a day and streets are swept Premrudee Charmpoonod, should is seen as the responsi- and researchers in the cling business. His core messages
daily early in the morning. also be applauded. With help from bility of the government Naresuan University are: know the materials, waste
It does have a unique feature the GTZ of Germany, she was and the appointed con- believe that in the near separation and be honest. As such,
– there are no garbage bins along instrumental in setting up the Com- cessionaires. As such, future, there will be no Wongpanit collection centres have
the major roads. The city council munity Based Waste Management many Malaysians are need for a landfill in clearly stated price lists and bold
removed almost all of them about about ten years ago. Solid waste under the delusions that Phitsanulok. At the very signs declaring that they do not ac-
four years ago as part of its effort to management (SWM) is seen as the they can throw rubbish least, the lifespan of its cept illegal materials.
keep the city clean. responsibility of the communities, anywhere outside their existing landfill can be Now, there are more than 500
Clearly, the residents do not with the local council playing a houses and there will prolonged considerably. recyclable banks and more than
throw rubbish indiscriminately. supporting role. be someone to clean up Indeed, plastic wastes 100 Wongpanit franchises in Thai-
The Phitsanulok City Council, This is in contrast to what is after them. in the landfill are being land. A branch has been set up in
especially the long-serving Mayor happening in Malaysia. Here, SWM An important factor LocalCounsel recovered for recycling Vientiane, Laos.
in Phitsanulok is that and there is research to Malaysians also want clean cit-
about 90% of the things by Goh Ban Lee treat the remaining soil ies and to save the environment.
that make cities dirty, so that it can be used as Indeed, hundreds of millions of
such as used plastic bags, newspa- compost. tax ringgit are being spent yearly
pers, paper cups, cans and bottles A large part of the success of on SWM and talking about 3Rs
are collected and sold to recyclable Phitsanulok in recycling can be – reduce, reuse and recycle.

Do we need
collection outlets. The city is work- attributed to Dr Somthai Wong- There is money in waste
ing towards achieving a 100% col- charoen who began dealing with management. Unfortunately, the
lection of recyclable materials. recyclable materials in 1974 with attention is on the appointment of
What’s more, some residents a start-up capital of 1,000 baht and contractors to collect and transport

a referendum? with landed compounds practise

vermi-composting – the use of earth
worms to digest organic wastes to
an old pick-up truck. His company,
Wongpanit, has grown into a multi-
million baht enterprise dealing with
waste and manage landfills and
who has the power to appoint them.
It should be on waste separation,
I SHARE the concerns expressed in in science and technology and ICT. produce composts. There are also thousands of tonnes of recyclable collecting recyclable materials,
“Students caught out” (July 10) as my Can translations by Dewan Bahasa plans to encourage the setting up of materials a year. processing them and selling them.
son will also face this predicament dan Pustaka keep pace with this global four or five vermi-compost farms so Had Wongpanit remained just
when he reaches Form 3. After learn- pace of development? that all organic wastes, which ac- a very successful waste recycling
ing maths and science in English from I remember helping my son on count for about 40% of solid wastes, company, it would not have at- Dr Goh Ban Lee is a retired academic
Year 1, he has to adjust to learning it his science assignment on hard and do not have to be disposed at the tracted much attention apart from interested in urban governance, hous-
in Bahasa Malaysia for three years in soft stem plants, and the numerous city landfill. making one man very rich. The ing and urban planning. Comments:
Secondary 3, and then revert to English websites we discovered (99% of which Phitsanulok municipal leaders fame of Wongpanit is that Samthai
when he goes to college at 18. were in English) and how quickly he
Having studied in Singapore, where learnt from the Internet. We worked
English is the medium of instruction, I on another assignment on Rumah-ru-
am proud to use my Bahasa Malaysia mah di Malaysia, where he looked for
as our national language. Our second information from the Bahasa Malaysia
prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak, had websites for a scrapbook. There was so
the vision of uniting all races through little to source from and much of the
the national school, and “satu bahasa material was identical to text books.
dan satu bangsa” concept. Bahasa I do not deny that the rural children
Malaysia has come a long way. You will be comfortable in their mother
can communicate with anyone in any tongue in Year 1, but are we really
part of Malaysia in the language and helping them or are we depriving them China says
feel comfortable and accepted as a of the benefits of globalisation? Numer-
Malaysian. ous rural parents and students have
steel talks
Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak must voiced their interest in learning science on despite
surely share what his father had initi- and maths in English? We only want Rio arrest
ated, in his vision of 1Malaysia. Con- the best for our children. Do we need
gratulations Mr Prime Minister. a referendum to confirm this?
pg 17
But we have too many schools, ie I rely on the national school system.
the national school, the Chinese, Tamil, I cannot afford international schools
and even Punjabi schools; the religious or education overseas. I too believe in
schools; the vision and cluster schools; the Vision of 1Malaysia. Let us strive for
the elite schools; and an increasing it through a futuristic national school,
number of international schools. How that incorporates the mother-tongue
do we build 1Malaysia? of all races and develops the individual
However, while Bahasa Malaysia has intellectually, physically, spiritually and
developed immensely in the subjects emotionally.
related to the Arts (language, literature,
history, etc), it has found it difficult to Mahaletchemy
keep pace with the rapid developments Via email

Allow a few English-medium schools

I REFER to the published responses to the change Lastly, over time these schools will bear the
in policy on the teaching of science and maths. fruits of the government’s original intent and
Since the Education Ministry says that only 9% more parents will understand the importance of
of teachers are competent to teach in English, it English to acquire knowledge as highlighted by
should not waste this valuable resource that was our former prime minister.
nurtured over the past few years. I believe there will be many parents of vari-
The government should convert some schools ous races who will enrol their children in these
to English medium (as many have suggested) to schools, and these will be the only schools in Ma-
provide choices. The teachers who are competent laysia to have a multiracial student body. I dare to
in English and those who would like to teach in the say these schools will be truly 1Malaysia schools.
language can be transferred to these schools. If our prime minister’s vision is to be successful,
There are tremendous benefits to this proposal. these schools will be a good start.
First, the cost is low as most teaching materials The Education Ministry can send out applica-
are already in English and there is no need to hire tion forms to all parents and find out how many
foreign experts. want their children to study in English-medium
Second, the ministry can monitor the progress schools. They can then formulate and earmark
of these schools and convert more schools based schools to teach in this medium. These schools
on the need. can be called Vision Schools or “Sekolah Wawasan
Third, teachers who are competent in English Kebangsaan”.
will not need to readjust/relearn to teach in an- Isn’t this a simple, fair, workable and cost-ef-
other language. fective solution?
Fourth, it will be a relief for parents who
choose to enrol their children in English-medium FC Hong
schools. Kuala Lumpur

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