Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How courteous are Malaysians?

Accoding to a Reader's Digest survey on how polite or courteous are people in 35 cities around the world ( Reported in RD July 2007 issue), people in Kuala Lumpur are soome of the LEAST COURTEOUS or LEAST POLITE. KUALA LUMPUR RANKED 33, well below Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong let alone the western countries.

Are we surprised or annoyed? Angry....and start questioning the survey, its methodology, sampling technique, how conducted etc.? Go ahead but the listing is done and published for the world to read! Only three simple tests were used:
*We wakled into public buildings 20 times behind people to see if they would hold the door open for us,
*We bought small items from 20 shops abd ereecorded whether the sales assistants said "Thank you",
*We dropped a folder full of papers in 20 busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up.

Simple enough and to me very appropriate for testing the courtsey or politeness index of a crowd. The actions expected in these tests do not involve others, especially the law, to cause any cautious reservations. Kuals Lumpur scored only 37% as compared to Singapore 42%, Jakarta 43%, Hong Kong 45%, Amsterdam 52%, London UK 57% Berlin 68%, Toronto 70%, Zurich, Swizerland 77& New York USA 80%. The least courteous is Mumbai with a score of 32%.

Well, what do you say? I'm a proud Malaysian but I have to agree with the propensity indicated by the survey. I say only 'propensity' or 'tendency' because that is all that a survey could hope to potray. The truth lies under various other layers of social indicators. But what is indicated is enough to make up examine ourselves seriously. How do Malaysians behave on the street while shopping, while driving, while attending a concert, while eating in a restuarant etc. Do they show courteousness or politeness to other Malaysians ( especially from other racial group) and foreigners? How do shopkeepers and shop assistants, waiters and waitresses, the technicians in motor repair shops amd other functionaries behave towards their clients
and customers?

I for one have witnessed many ocassions where rudeness, lack of decorum, insensitivities, lack of concern for the right of others, lack of civility and a thorough lack of respect for others have showed up. To list them all would be voicing what many of us, I'm sure, have witnessed. We can of course make many excuses for our lack of courteousness. " He didn't show me any respect, so why should I respect him," is a common one. " Who cares lah!" is another.

Well, the world now knows that the traditional Malaysian courtesy and politeness, the ready smile and willingness to help,
the warm greetings on the street and the " You first, Sir/Madam," attitude, is not always there anymore. Just driving on a busy street or even on the highway, will tell that Malaysians have changed for the worse. Maybe it's time for the Government to hold a courtesy campaign again since the modern education system adn 50 years of Merdeka seemed to have failed to produce courteous people...

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