A simple question was posed to me by two Berita Kampus' reporters today. It was with regards to the increasing problem of vehicular parking at USM main campus.
At first I was reluctant, though I did answer their question in a jest, due to the fact that they came in unannounced (not that I need a proper appointment). But it would be courteous of any reporter to call in first to tell their interviewee the topic of discussion, so that the person can have some time to gather his thoughts and present it in a more organized manner.
Well, unless it is their intention to surprise or trap the interviewee with a soalan maut, then it's a different case!But I guess, the questions they posed and the answers they wanted was within my reach.
I know what they wanted was to gauge my opinion on the recent ruling of a clamping zone by the security department in campus.
But much to their dismay, they didn't really get what they wanted, I guess, but instead I gave them the runaround. No, not that I made it difficult for them or give them a riddled answer so they would have to figure out themselves what the real answers were. I gave them a direct answer, but something that they had not expected -- that to me, there is no parking problem.
I usually drive to work with my wife and she would drop at the office and pick me up after work. Her office is in Bertam. So, I do not need a parking space most of the time. If it so happens I need to use the car, as sometimes her schedule is different from mine, I would drive to work as early as 7.30 and there are lots of parking space.
During lunch I would just walk to the nearest canteen and spend around 20-30 minutes or tapau the food and eat at the office without having to drive the car. So, as far as parking in USM is concern, I do not have a problem.
As to the answers on the parking constraint in campus, I told them it is not due to lack of parking space. It is actually due to the increasing use of automobiles in campus. In other words, it is because of our attitude in having to depend too much on motorised vehicle to move around, that even if the place we intend to go is just a walking distance, we would prefer to drive there.
So I told them, there are too many unnecessary use of vehicles, and as such even if the management were to provide more parking space, the problem would not go away.
Throughout the years USM have acquired more land, but more land has also been taken for development -- to build student hostels, lecture halls, administrative offices, canteens, schools and this leaves us lesser space to park our vehicles.
Nonetheless, while the roads in Campus are getting busier each year, we have also made efforts to widen them. But there is also a price we have to pay as some of our heritage trees and buildings have been demolished to pave way for this development.
This is the fact we have to accept -- that since the 80s, the increasing number of student enrollment, new schools being created and the sudden surge of staff in-take has taken its toll on the Campus environment.
I also told the students no one simple solution can erase the problem. It is actually a multifaceted problem that we have to overcome in a holistic way and this approach has to be implemented in a step-by-step manner, gradually.
By enforcing or adopting a unilateral approach, i.e. clamping the cars of errant drivers, even if we can scare them in the short term, the problem would persist when these drivers react in a negative way (you can let your imaginations run wild what these people can do to give the security department a bigger headache than forcing them to pay RM20).
But be that as it may, I told them the root of the matter lies in the government's policy on vehicle usage as the biggest culprit to the vehicular congestion problem in this country. That there is no regulation at all regarding the ownership of vehicles. Anybody with enough deposit and a statement to verify their monthly income can buy as many cars as they want, be it 2, 3, 4 or even 10. You can kowtim with the banks to let you pay longer installments even though your income statement can't verify you can afford to own one.
One household can even have as many 4 to 5 cars park in front of their house, even though they live in flats and apartments. And all these, no thanks to the liberal policy that the government has adopted as far as the ownership of vehicles are concern.
Just compare the number of vehicles that crawl our roads with the development of new roads and worst still, parking lots available? Isn't it simply unjustified?
Some people would want to argue that it all lies within the person (or driver) to adopt a self-disciplined way in approaching these matters about parking...bla..bla..bla...! But you tell me, if everybody comes to work early in the morning and there are still no place to park, would you still blame the errant driver who parks his car indiscriminately?
There is no more space, where do you expect him/her to park? He/she has to go to work, class, meeting etc... So spare him/her the cane...!
You can argue until the cows come home, the pigs could fly and the cats grow horns about this matter, but eventually it is the system that governs the regulations and it is the government that adopts the system that would guide us to solve this matter.
Yeah, right. Blame it on the powers-that-be. Who else do we want to blame, the parents and teachers have enough burden to carry, trying to teach the children to behave.
Well, serve you people right to want to govern us...!
My alter-ego was thinking and wondering how come Singapore don't have this problem...?