Going for a walk in my neighbourhood the other day, I came upon a sight that we as Malaysians are all too familiar with – trash flung right under a huge but impotent signboard spelling out a nasty RM500 fine for anyone caught dumping trash.
That same evening, I encountered another familiar sight – dog poo piled in glorious abundance at random spots along the sides of the roads and on grassy banks. Was picking up after your dog too laborious or undignified a task? Better to let your neighbours manoeuvre the obstacle course themselves and for those less skilful, deal with the consequences in private. After all, what’s a little poo-smear on your shoes or bicycle tyres!
Here are some more ‘nasties’ that Malaysians never tired of…
Queuing - Why does the average Malaysian take such issue with the simple act of queuing? The train finally pulls up and the once office-weary crowd suddenly bursts into action, turning hostile and elbowing each other as they strain to be the first in. As a young student using the public bus years ago, I cannot count how many times the bus stopped right in front of me yet I was the last up as old ladies, young boys and even meek and mild-mannered school girls hissed, spat and jostled their way past me with umbrellas, school files and elbows jabs blocking my pathetic ascend. Sigh!
Flushing – I hate using public toilets only because Malaysians harbour an aversion towards flushing. It’s ridiculously painful to walk around with a bladder fit to bursting, then have to peek into the toilet bowl first before actually getting down to the business at hand. And yes, sometimes the mass that greets you in the bowl is someone’s unfortunate dinner the previous night. Absolutely sickening!
Squatting on toilet seats – Malaysians are an acrobatic lot. How else could you explain muddy shoe marks on a public toilet seat? Did it never occur to them to line the seat with tissue paper, then sit on it before taking a dump?
Throwing trash from the car – Soda cans, food wrappers, half-eaten food and cigarette butts. Yes, these and many more are often seen airborne before unceremoniously crash-landing on our highways. Once while waiting for a friend by the roadside, a speeding car comes hurtling along the bend. A well-dressed foreigner winds down his window and flings a beer can onto the divider, probably thinking nothing of it since many Malaysians before him did it too.
Smoking in restaurants – So maybe they didn’t see the ‘No Smoking’ sign or maybe, just maybe they are inconsiderate and selfish. It’s positively annoying (and somewhat impossible) to carry on a conversation with your friend when the goon beside you is spewing cigarette smoke into your face and choking up your respiratory system with second hand smoke.
Spitting in public – When Beijing hosted the Olympics, the government invested money to educate its people from spitting in public. In beautiful Malaysia, we do encounter this disgusting habit every so often too. What really is more stomach churning is the guttural sound that precedes the act.
Double-parking – A favourite among many Malaysians. Some even leave their business cards on your windscreen so you can call them to re-park their car once you’re ready to leave. Others just don’t give a damn and leave you honking furiously till they casually emerge ten minutes later. As far as they’re concerned, a curt ‘sorry’ should suffice.
Since many Malaysians are daredevil thugs in corporate clothing, it would help if the authorities got serious about enforcement. Right now, most people do as they please simply because all those ‘no smoking’, ‘no dumping’, ‘no parking’ warnings are pretty much ‘all bark no bite’.
(Free Malaysia Today : Sandra John)