Friday, January 14, 2005

The Rude Malaysian Contest

The Star’s polls on the “Rude Malaysian Contest” caught my eye yesterday. It can be an undeniable fact that even as our Tourism advertising is touting Malaysians as being welcoming, friendly, never hesitant to help those in need and well spoken is not true especially in respect to each other. Thus this is my order of the list of which I felt are the worst habits exhibited by our own.

Inconsiderate driving
I can bet that everyone in Malaysia would put this first and foremost o their list. It cannot escape that no matter how mild mannered and polite we are we turn into a totally different person behind the wheel. From road rage to profanity shouting to indiscriminately breaking the traffic rules, you name it we have done it. I’ve written about the quirky habits of Malaysian before here. Add into the mix is the Police who finds every opportunity to saman you for duit kopi and we all have a ball!

Smoking in non-smoking areas
Another one for the top of the list. Smokers even if they say they have the right to smoke stands to reason that no matter where they smoke, the fumes would remain and drift with the wind. Often we see a huge sign stating no smoking in a certain area but these are often disregarded and you’ll see some idiot happily smoking away and if you ask politely for them to put it out, they’ll give you the evil eye and puff right into your face and say, “So what?” I’m frankly tired of going into a toilet with smoke or entering a bus chocked full of it that it cannot escape, lets not start on how smoke lingers in airconditioning.

Not giving up seats to the elderly, disabled and pregnant women
I’ve been to Singapore and though we often say how authoritarian and kiasu the people are, I find that their attitude towards courtesy is refreshing as compared to our own. In Malaysia many times I’ve witnessed an elderly lady who could not stand on the bus long denied a seat as people causally ignored her and resumed their seat. Other times, a man had to shout out loud if someone would give his pregnant wife of 8 months a seat on the LRT. When boarding the bus in Singapore, I chanced upon a time when a woman travelling alone and well into her pregnancy came aboard. The conductor immediately and without hesitation asked if someone would be kind enough to offer their seat, but before that I can see a few already getting up and gesturing. I don’t think I’ll be seeing that soon here as we often see the reserved seating at the LRT being used by those not eligible to it or the disabled parking spot being used by indiscriminate people.

We often don’t think before we chuck out our garbage anywhere we like. Driving from Kl to Kuantan I witness people opening their car window and just dumping trash onto the road. Garbage cans provided for use are often not utilized for their purpose or worse vandalized. Another fine example is the fact that if you visit any national open house, you’ll be sure to see litter everywhere after the crowd has left. Malaysian are still not environmentally conscious I can say, how many of the rivers are choked full of garbage, how many of us actually recycle and how many of us never even flinch as we throw something to the ground?

Using the handphone in the cinema to talk or send messages
“With great technology comes great responsibility” Spiderman would gladly utter this out if he was interrupted in the middle of his own movie by the ring of a phone and the loud booming voice of its user. No matter how many times the ad played to remind people to silence their phones, they never do. People often go about as if missing a call is life or death, can’t they just quickly tell the person on the other end that they’ll call back instead of going into a long drawn conversation or even worse to start narrating and commenting on the movie to them? At the very least silence it and step outside to answer if it is that important.

Jumping queue
Don’t start, I’ve been caught countless of times arriving early for a bus and standing at the appropriate spot to only be swarmed by late comers who has no qualms about stepping forward and acting like there’s nothing wrong. What about those with friends further ahead in the line and just step forward saying, “Ini kawan aku, tak apa ye.” (read: This is my buddy, so everything is ok). Without a queue being enforced such as barriers, I think all hell would break out, we only have to look at the signs pleading people to let LRT passsengers align before rushing into the train.

Not saying “Sorry”
Try getting hit by a car reversing and then having the person screaming out the top of their lungs at you as if it was first and foremost your fault that he got caught in that situation and worst, you are to blame! Most of us have the complexity that we can do no wrong and anything that does happen must be some cosmic conspiracy in the part of others. Even a single bump from people in a crowded store and no one has the courtesy to apologize but look coldly and just shuffle past. Waiters at the restaurant that accidentally spill hot soup on you acting nonchalant and even not giving reason for serving you food an hour later. Like Elton John sings, ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest words to say’.

Disregard for public property
Vandalism, our newspapers in the past had so many highlight news and campaigns to highlight this scourge but today everything is silent and it is still as rampant as ever. We simple cannot comprehend the word “communal use” and with that think that since we do not own it we are not responsible for its upkeep and wellbeing. How many of us had walked past a dismembered phone missing its handle, broken up for the coins or simple out of order? How many of us fainted outright or would rather hold onto our bursting bladder rather than enter a public toilet? How many of us are irate that facilities at the parks for our kids are not in working order or not maintained to the point of causing harm?

Taking excessive food from buffet lines
Read the papers and you’ll find that people turn into starving refugees at the mention of free food. We pile food up high onto our plates and bring more than we can eat just because we are afraid that it’ll run out or that we’re getting our money’s worth. Yet we never think about others that are lining up and expecting to grab a bite or that there’s enough food to go around. I heard before mothers telling their kids to go ahead with their plates and just take as much as they can and bring them back without figuring how much they can eat. It doesn’t help that we turn into savages and like the earlier rude habit we cut cues and rush to the front.

Not saying “Thank You”
Malaysians are supposed to be famed for saying this, every little thing is replied with these two simple words to show thanks for the effort others have done for us. Yet nowadays the gesture itself is dying down. See also not saying sorry.

Taking other people's things without seeking their permission
A very bad habit that seems to permeate in a lot of people. It’s okay when you have an understanding among one another but most time people just don’t ask before using your stuff and worse never say thank you or even bother to return the item in its original state. Having housemates that at times can drive you hell up the wall especially when you’re back from a long day of class and just needing a refreshing drink yet find your Coke bottle empty and depleted is a common given.

Not responding to RSVP requests
I’m already winding down towards the end. Anyway not many people would know what RSVP means anyhow (for the unenlightened it means literally please reply and confirm your attendance). Not telling the host who took the time to send out invitation and is waiting patiently for you to confirm your attendance so they can schedule the event is another trait that we practiced but to my mind not that wide spread. Most of the time we just take into account of the people that hasn’t replied and maybe even expect several gate crashers, thus no biggie there. Often we’d order more than necessary to be on the safe side anyway.

Boasting about your wealth among less fortunate people
Another thing we all are very accomplished with, trying to upstage each other with our own achievements. Often we tout our wealth, status, medals, skills and even children’s achievement I the race to one up another. Wealth is always a good measure to impress upon others, we hear often people say, “Ayoh, my Honda Citi getting too small and outdated already (though only bought for less than a year) now new model out and I’ve got to get it!” or “Hubby and I going to tour Europe la, gonna visit here and there, shop the stores and have a ball”. Yet I believe that not many of us are like this, many rich people out there are often restraining in flouting their wealth around and when generosity is needed to help others they are not loose with their checkbooks.

Spitting in public
Though some people still do this and its yucky and annoying to step into a wad of someone’s spittle, not too widespread to cause panic. Mostly I see old people doing this but most of them are considerate enough to deposit their phlegm where people won’t be getting to near to such as into a drain. More emphasis should be given to the rude behaviour of people urinating in indiscriminate places such as the carparks where you'll often find dad's cajouling their little kid to just shoot off into the bushes.

Cutting into people’s conversations
I don’t know if its rude, maybe so if the person is a total stranger, but I’ve yet to be caught in a situation where a person that I absolutely have no recollection butting into a conversation before. We’re all kay poh (busy body) anyway and would pounce to hear about an interesting gossip. Lets not forget the old grandmas that would often talk out loud through the morning after their morning marketing and you can’t avoid not hearing what they say.

Asking people in public how much they earn
Don’t know why this is here. As in the previous entry we’re all kay poh and asking people what they do or earn has been entrenched as a usual request and not altogether offensive. Okay so some of us do not like people prying too deep especially when wealth is concerned and some of us doesn’t know the boundary between decency to ask such a tactless question. Well no worries if we can’t ask directly we can always depend on our network of satellite dishes (busy bodies and gossipers) to find out without asking the person directly.

The results are out at the Star and it seems the top most grievence for Malaysian rudeness is not an unexpected one. Well seems I've got 5 out of the top 7 though not in the order. Well we all know our own weaknesses and thus what are we goning to do about it? We all know all the money and time spent on campaigns would not really make a dent or impression among us so let us concentrate individually, if we ourselves strive to erradicate bad habits cumulatively society would be a better place in future. For now I'm going to try to be more level headed in my driving, okay so I'm going to shout out some profanities if the other person is acting like an idiot.

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