LAST week, a few fellow reporters and I had a hands-on experience removing illegal advertisements stuck on public amenities.
This followed a friendly suggestion by a City Hall officer during the operation and before we knew it, each of us were holding a paint scrapper to remove the advertisements stuck almost everywhere.
The process begins with a sticker-removing liquid sprayed or spread on road signs and the metal Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB)' s feeder pillars.
The stickers need to be scrapped off fast before the liquid dries off. Otherwise, another layer has to be sprayed on, or we will find it hard to remove the stickers.
We spent a good half an hour just to remove stickers from one side of a feeder pillar. And I believe that it's not as easy and cheap as sticking the ads on.
We were told that the liquid is expensive as a large quantity is needed to get the stickers off.
While at work removing the stickers, I read a few, which offered loans.
As it was past working hours, curious passers-by stopped to check out what we were doing, while some cheered us on.
The thought of our hard work going to waste if the cleaned surfaces only welcomed others to stick on their ads was disheartening, not to mention having to contend with our sore arms.
To put a stop to this practice is a long shot, but there are a few ways to reduce this menace, besides relying on enforcement.
Section 104 of the Local Government Act 1976 (Act 171) states that the maximum penalty for breaches of by-laws (advertisement) is a meager fine of RM2,000 and a jail term of not more than a year.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission had also cancelled thousands of phone numbers listed on these illegal advertisements.
Despite these efforts, illegal sticker advertisements and buntings keep appearing.
The problem with illegal advertisements is that they are usually placed at the most inappropriate places such as road signs which are not only eyesores, but also inconvenience others.
An online comment I read suggested that the offenders be made to do community service by removing all illegal advertisements, not just the ones they had put up.
One way to do this would be to call the numbers on the ads and get the culprits behind them to do the clean-up.
The proposals to impose a heavier penalty by reviewing Section 104 of the Act is also timely, as this could well be incorporated in it.
Anti-stick paints must be used to make it tough for the offenders to put up ads. (I know of a few local councils that have started using them).
The owners of the structures (including phone booths) must take responsibility for their property.
Some residents' associations have taken the steps to remove the illegal advertisements (identified by the absence of permit numbers on them) and alert the local authorities when they see people putting them up.
Apart from this commendable act, the public should be allowed to take part in operations by local councils to remove the advertisements.
This apparently can attract the attention of others as we learnt during the operations with City Hall.
This way, the public (including yours truly) will appreciate the hard work and hopefully educate the public on what a nuisance these illegal advertisements really are.