Making your complaints count

Complaining is a national pastime for most Malaysians. Train an ear on the usual conversations at the nearby mamak and you’ll hear someone venting about something or other.

Bad economy. Low wages. That annoying neighbour who lets his cat wander freely, to sit on your car and terrorise your chihuahua.

It never ends.

But the next time you complain, think: can you actually do something about it? If it’s a problem in your residential area or state, do you know how or what you need to do? Well, here’s a very simple guide.

If it’s a problem in your housing area, think of bringing it up with the residents association. You don’t have a residents association? Then consider starting one?

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it? Why doesn’t someone higher up do something about it? That’s why you voted them in, right?

Look. Your MP or assemblyperson is busy enough with his duties that he really can’t spare the time to harangue your neighbour about his cat.

And why can’t you spare the time to talk with your neighbour? Get to know his name?

If it’s a bigger issue, say, the horrible conditions of your nearby hawker centre or wet market, then speak to your nearest council rep. Yes, your local councils or Majlis Perbandaran need you to tell them when things aren’t working out.

It is often the case where residents fume about issues but they never bother making official complaints. Have a heart. Your local councilors can neither be everywhere at once nor can they read your minds.

If you’ve made a complaint, heard nothing back and feel you’re being ignored, then bring it up with your assemblyperson.

Now, if you’ve got a bigger gripe of national concern, only then do you write letters or try to engage your parliamentarian.

Many Malaysians are very ignorant about the proper channels for their complaints, which is a pity because your feedback matters. Unless you speak up, nothing will get done or be fixed. Don’t whine about things not being done when you don’t even take the effort to say something to the right people who can take the necessary action.

One last thought: why don’t you get to know a neighbour today? To help you get into that neighbourly spirit, have a listen to this classic Sesame Street ditty:

People in your neighbourhood