Even toilets at MRT stations were not spared by vandals. AIZUDDIN SAAD

COME Aug 31, Malaysia will mark 60 years of independence as a sovereign nation.

Looking back at some of our achievements, the gross national income (GNI) per capita had risen from US$402 in 1970, to US$10,796 in 2014. Within the same period, poverty was reduced from 49.3 per cent to 0.6 per cent, while hardcore poverty had been eradicated.

It is fair enough to say that it has been a long journey from where we were back then to where we are now today.

With the recently-launched second phase of the mass rapid transit (MRT) system, public transport has become easier all the way from Sungai Buloh to Kajang, with transit stations in between for easy access from one line to another.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the MRT was only the beginning of Putrajaya’s plans to improve the country’s public transport, with the aim of having a fully-integrated system by 2027.

To achieve the target, the government has planned several projects, and some are already under construction.

For example, the light rail transit 3 (LRT 3) line is scheduled for completion by 2020, while the MRT SSP line is expected to be ready by 2022.

A proposed MRT 3 line is also targeted for 2027.

However, like every other great story, it has its antagonist.

In the case of the MRT, the antagonist is vandalism seen in the first five days of operation. It is sad to see a first-class facility being used by some people with third-class mentality.

This seems to be the case for Malaysia for most of its history, where we invest millions, or even billions, of taxpayers’ money in building infrastructure, and there will always be somebody to vandalise them.

To make things worse, we are only three years away from 2020, but we are still struggling to change the people’s mentality.

We can’t say that it is purely the problem of free-riding as people pay for the service, nor is it the case of the Tragedy of the Commons — the selfish nature of people in reaping the greatest benefit from a given resource.

Nevertheless, the problem of “first-class facility, third-class mentality” that we are facing now has damaging effects on the MRT as it costs unnecessary burden to repair the infrastructure.

Furthermore, the people should be proud of having a public transport system that is on a par with Singapore’s MRT, and some even say that our MRT is better than the London Tube and New York City subway.

The fact that MRT is built with taxpayers’ money should give weight to the argument that we have to take care of these facilities, and not vandalise them.

It is straightforward common sense for those with first-class mentality, but for some who aren’t, quoting Voltaire: “Common sense is not so common”.

SYAHMI RAFSANJANI SHAARANI , 1st year, BA (Hons) Economics and Politics at The University of Manchester, UK.

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