Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Selfishness - Alive and well in our cities today

Spend a day in Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya (prominent cities in Malaysia, for the uninitiated) and you will learn what selfishness means.

Wake up in the morning and take your car for a drive down any of the major highways of these cities and it won't be long before you see selfishness mirrored in the face of a random driver that is bent on getting ahead of you, whatever the cost may be.

It's evidently permeating the air as an impatient motorist flashes his headlights at you in broad daylight, fully intent on squeezing into the lane you were cruising along just right at the very moment when you were about to pass him by. Without putting his signal, I might add.

Stare into the droves of people walking busily up and down the streets. It won't be too hard to spot the selfish one. She's the one who's busy chattering to her mobile phone but who drops it and breaks into a run the moment she sees a small van setting up shop and handing out freebies to the public.

Cars do not stop for pedestrians to cross the road in Malaysia, except when forced to by clearly marked pedestrian crossings. Zebra crossings don't always cut it. If you're a tourist visiting the country, take heed and value your life.

If you happen to space out while standing in queue for the payment counter at the hypermarket, be wary - someone just might cut into the queue randomly and overtake you, for no apparent reason and with no apologies.

Try taking the KTM (Keretapi Tanah Melayu), the public train system, during the after work rush hour - you will be pushed forwards and backwards in a queue that really isn't a queue but rather is just a mass of people all wanting to get on or off the train at the same time. It is an absolute nightmare, and you can forget about getting to wherever you need to be on time.

There was a time that I remember Malaysians were known internationally as being friendly people. But in recent years, Readers Digest has cited Malaysians under a list of the least courteous countries.

What a shame to even think we have progressed.