LAST_UPDATESat, 21 Jul 2018 9pm

Vandals Using The MRT Beware, There Is Now A Hotline To Catch You In The Act

“This is the problem with our society. When they don’t get anything, they will complain. When they do get something, they don’t appreciate it.”

“Some people’s mentality is still backwards. Hopefully society can work together to combat vandalism that has worsened over the years.”

Those are just some of the comments from Malaysian public but the general consensus was censure when it was made known that Phase 2 of MRT Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) Line was vandalised just a few days after it was launched.

The damage was extensive as it included broken taps, broken toilet bidets, broken toilet seats and bowls, scratches on walls, scratches on chairs, and a case where someone climbed and damaged the Rukunegara feature wall in Merdeka station.

However, this was far from being the only case of vandalism being done by some irresponsible individuals as last year, the United Buddy Bear sculptures were damaged when they were put up for display in Penang Esplanade and as it was an international road show, some NGOS of Germany and the Germany ambassador to Malaysia filed complaints, which tarnished the image of Malaysia.

With the recent highly publicised incident, the bad habits of Malaysians are once again in the limelight.

Are the recent acts of of vandalism on MRT the work of thrill-seeking youngsters or something more serious, a reflection of hate politics of the disenfranchised?

Malaysian Digest looked at how these random acts of vandalism can be prevented before the problem escalates, depriving law-abiding commuters from enjoying the facilities.

“If They Are Caught Committing Acts Of Vandalism, MRTCorp, Prasarana Or Rapid Rail Will Lodge A Report To The Police”

Although it was not highlighted, Phase 1 of MRT Sungai Buloh–Kajang (SBK) Line was not able to escape these acts of vandalism as well as some passengers mentioned that they found chewing gum stuck under the seats and toilet seats were broken when it was just launched.

As it seems like the problem would not go away easily, what measures are being taken to prevent more of these acts from being committed again in the future?

“Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd, as the asset owner, will discuss with the operator Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd to decide on the best way forward to solve this problem, including deterrent plans.

Datuk Najmuddin AbdullahDatuk Najmuddin Abdullah“This is because Rapid Rail, as operator of the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line, now has full control of the stations and trains, including over security,” said Datuk Najmuddin Abdullah, Director, Strategic Communications and Stakeholder Relations, Mass Rapid Transit Corporation Sdn Bhd.

For now, there are on average 110 CCTV cameras monitoring each MRT station to ensure the safety of the passengers and to prevent crime.

“If they are caught committing acts of vandalism, MRT Corp, Prasarana or Rapid Rail will lodge a report to the police or local authorities to take legal action,” Datuk Najmuddin said in an earlier interview with Malaysian Digest and said that investigations are now on going, including whether any suspects can be identified.

MRT Corp, together with Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd, the operator of the MRT, are also currently assessing the damages which have taken place.

“Some urgent repairs have been carried out so that users will not be inconvenienced by the damage,” Najmuddin said, though he lamented on the fact that the money spent on repairing the damages, which technically comes from taxpayers’ money, could have been channelled to better uses.

In the meantime, he hopes that Malaysians would be more civic conscious and look after public property.

“Everyone should be proud of this new facility and should play their part in looking after the facilities.

“Use them carefully and think of the next person who has to use them,” Datuk Najmuddin implored.

Parenting Coach Outlines Signs To Lookout For In Children Prone To Vandalism

The culprits behind the acts have yet to be identified but certified parenting coach, Zaid Mohamad of Smart Parents, believes that it was done by those who are younger in age, between 12 to 18, as he said that research found that they are the most prone in engaging in vandalising activities, with most cases overwhelmingly done by boys.

Because of this, he cautioned parents with children in that age group to be extra alert by looking out for signs of vandalism.

“Parents need to look at their children’s belongings in their room – if they have a strong tendency to be broken or damaged, chances are these teenagers have developed the habit of vandalising things.

Zaid MohamadZaid Mohamad“Also, if parents notice items such as cones, stickers or posters that should belong in public places, then it is a big sign that their child is involved in vandalising activities,” he shared with Malaysian Digest.

As it is very rare for vandals to not show any signs, parents need to be more attentive and discerning so that they would be able to intervene in their child’s behaviour.

“Parents need to determine whether their child is in the high risk group or not – whether they take public transportation and go out all the time.

“Those families whose children take public transportation need to pay special attention as the children are more prone to vandalism because they are usually free to go anywhere they like and have unsupervised social groups, so the chances of vandalism happening in this group is higher,” he advised.

Sometimes, they do not realise that they are committing vandalism but Zaid said that most of the time the culprits succumbed to peer pressure when they are dared and challenged by their friends to do something as a way to prove their worth.

Which leads to the fact that vandalism involves two aspects: the physical part, where we can see the damage done such as the damage on the MRT facilities or spray painting an area with graffiti; and the emotional part, where they feel satisfaction in doing those acts as they sometimes see it as a status symbol among their peers, as a way to gain recognition, and a way to showcase that they are different.

According to Zaid, the emotional part is the driving force behind them committing vandalism.

“Sometimes, they like it when we highlight the things that they did like the vandalism on the MRT facilities.

“I am sure the doer enjoyed some sort of glory as it inadvertently gave publicity to the doer.

“But I hope it does not encourage others to do even worst things,” Zaid expressed.

As a parenting coach, Zaid outlined for us the stages of intervention to prevent children from becoming vandals and they are:

First stage – Through love, care and attention, positive parenting would usually prevent this vandalising behaviour altogether. For example, when children are given toys, they should be told how to take care of their things, to share it with others and the other positive things, and they will usually not end up as vandals.

Second stage - When they are slightly older, such as when they are in primary school, they will come out with more ideas and become more creativite, so parents need to channel it to positive avenues by getting them involved in clubs and activities.

Third stage – At this stage, the children has actually gotten themselves into trouble by getting involved in vandalism. This is where parents need to be more observant and look at what kind of friends they are hanging out with, who are their friends, where do they go and what kind of public transport they take.

“Look out for the physical signs where they bring home items that belong to the public or nowadays since there’s social media see whether they are bragging about doing something to the public places. They sometimes even record a video so we have to be mindful about it

“If they are caught in the situation, parents need to be more proactive or more involved such as sending them for counselling or talk to them and tell that it is wrong before it goes to the final stage where they become more hard core where they would climb buildings and spray painting the whole building,” he advised.

Combating Vandalism Starts With The Public

After the damage caused by vandals at MRT stations made headlines, there have been calls for the authorities and company managing the premises to take stern action on anyone caught vandalising public properties.

An example has to be set to deter potential vandals in the future. While Section 425 of the Penal Code provide for legal action against vandals, including being jailed for up to three months if found guilty, the culprits have to be caught red-handed first.

Among the views shared by concerned Malaysians on social media, some have called for the perpetrators to be made to clean up the mess they leave behind or repair the damages they did as part of their sentence.

The installation of CCTV cameras around premises is a good starting point to take preventive steps and capture the offenders.

Tan Sri Musa Hassan, former Inspector-General of Police of Malaysia, said that CCTV with high resolution is essential to identify the culprit as their photograph can be captured when they are committing the acts.

Tan Sri Musa HassanTan Sri Musa Hassan“Police now can identify and arrest the culprits through CCTV recordings as they have the equipment to do so, provided that the CCTV has high resolution cameras as it would be difficult to identify them if it is not,” he told Malaysian Digest.

Other than relying on CCTV cameras, he said that the public can also do their part by informing the police when they see vandalism acts being done and not take matters into their own hands.

“When the public sees people committing vandalism, they should inform the police first before taking it in their own hands and do not keep quiet about it as they sometimes do it in full view of the public.

“Or they can take photographs so that they can pass it to the police since almost everyone has a phone in their possession,” he advised.

According to Tan Sri Musa, most of the culprits are youths who cannot be controlled because they have not been disciplined or their family does not control them.

However, he said that there are also instances where older people commit these acts as well as they do this not because for the thrill of it, but because of hate politics.

“They have been taught to hate something, so when the government does something, they automatically hate it. So this must be corrected,” he said.

To curb vandalism from happening, Tan Sri Musa said that educating youths with civic consciousness is important because the government has provided these facilities and they damage it and no one can use it anymore.

Rapid Rail Sdn Bhd – which manages the Rapid KL urban rail services as a subsidiary of Malaysian government-owned Prasarana, is also taking a proactive measure to combat vandalism and wrongdoings by commuters at its facilities by enlisting the help of the public.

They have created a special mobile number +6010 766 4472 for commuters to share images and feedback of their travel experience and encounters while taking the LRT, MRT, and monorail services via WhatsApp.

"The images and feedback will be managed by the Rapid KL contact centre team members who would share the images and feedback with the relevant team members for further action, as well as with members of the public on a need basis as part of the efforts to continually improve the service delivery and travel experience of its customers," Rapid Rail said in a statement.

Dato Ir. Zohari SulaimanDato Ir. Zohari Sulaiman“We appreciate any kind of feedbacks from our customers in efforts to continually improve our services and in guarding the precious public assets, which have been entrusted to us.

“These feedbacks – good and not so good – will be shared with the relevant parties to act accordingly,” Rapid Rail CEO, Dato Ir. Zohari Sulaiman said.

Despite the numerous security personnel on duty and thousands of CCTVs installed at the facilities and on-board the trains, Zohari said that immediate censure and feedback from members of the public are needed to keep unruly acts in check.

“Hence, we seek the support of our commuters. Help us to tell off people who you see committing acts of vandalism, indecency, and misbehaviour.

“If you do not feel comfortable to do that, snap a photo and share it with us. We will take the relevant actions accordingly,” Zohari said.

With collective effort by the society, it is hoped that acts of vandalism will be curbed so that Malaysians will have the attitude to match when it becomes a developed nation.