On the other hand, consumers and residents, also have important responsibilities to ensure the cleanliness, safety and prosperity of the community. In too many communities, vandalism, destruction of public property such as lifts and playground amenities, unhealthy environment for example that enables the breeding of the aedes mosquito, haphazard parking, and irresponsible dumping of rubbish continue to occur. This form of selfish and destructive behaviour of a few individuals can have strong negative effects on the community as a whole. Continuous awareness and education is crucial. So is effective enforcement, especially for those who are too stubborn to change.
FOMCA also hopes that beyond the basic needs of the community, developmental programs and activities can be developed. This could include youth sports and recreation centres, child care services, mental health support services, and support for the aged members of society. Further, continuous education and training should be an integral part of community development. This could include personal development skills, consumer education, financial education, vocational skills, health education and awareness programmes on various medical and health issues.
Consumers could also collaborate through sharing information to address common issues such as increasing cost of living. They could share where to get the best value for money or expose sellers who over-price and encourage their friends to boycott retailers who over-price their goods and services. Residents could also engage with higher authorities to address broader community issues. For example if the community has no access to public transport, the community could make a request to the nearest bus company as well as seek the support of the policy makers to push for their issues.
However, we need to realise that all of this would not come automatically. The government needs to invest in capacity building and empowering the community to play an effective role. The government should also play the role of facilitator and enabler to ensure that the community moves forward to become truly prosperous. If not, the policy will just remain on paper, and not truly transform the community.
Dato’ Dr. Paul Selva Raj
Secretary General, FOMCA