by Mohammed Shakur

KL 12:49pm, Wed: My brain was exhausted after answering one of the most difficult online polls (conducted by one of our local major newspaper publications) I have ever encountered for years. Despite most of the questions that were somewhat easy, one question was really mind-boggling, which goes something like, “Is KL world-class?” I had to pinch myself once just to make sure that I was not dreaming. Is KL world-class? This is just like asking if our M-league is on par with the Italian Serie A league.

As the answer space was limited there, I list here seven defective habits of some Malaysians that make KL and Malaysians far from ‘world-class’:

Habit No 1 – Inability to use public toilet

It seems that some Malaysians can’t even pee in the toilet bowl – let alone flush the  oilet after use. Take a look at our public toilet and you’ll know what I mean.

Habit No 2 – Reckless driving

If Proton and Perodua were to cut their production costs (especially with the upcoming Asean Free Trade Agreement), I would recommend one sole suggestion – take off the left and right signal lights off! I guess the give-left/right-signal procedure does not even exist in some Malaysians’ dictionary of life. Once, I nearly rammed upon an Isuzu Trooper (on the PLUS highway) after the pakcik driving it suddenly swerved into my lane when I was travelling at 110kph. The authorities also need to realise that a person who drives recklessly even at 60kph is more likely to face an accident compared with a person who drives cautiously at 250kph (this is proven by German researchers, by the way).

Habit No 3 – Sibuk (Noising Around)

Ever tried wearing or doing something different and get yourselves stared at like an alien? It happened to me a lot of times – the most memorable one that was at the Los Angeles International Airport, when I had to perform my Zuhur solat in the international departure hall. Guess what happened – while I was not even bothered by the WASPs (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants), African Americans, or any foreigners, I was stared at by a whole bunch of Malaysians who looked as if they had not seen a person performing solat before!

Habit No 4 – Practising double standards

Even though we are a so-called ‘merdeka’ country, there is still a colonised bunch of Malaysians walking proud in the land. Let me narrate one of the most recent incidents from a couple that I’ve been through. In my search to find a decent piece of neckwear, I decided to visit Starhill in the Bukit Bintang area in KL. Upon entering a famous fashion house boutique, I was not even greeted (let alone given a smile), even after smiling to the sales assistant. Five minutes later, a Mat Salleh gentleman went in, and immediately, the same sales assistant greeted the gentleman, “Good afternoon, Sir; how can I help you?”

Habit No 5 – Imitating/Replicating

Ever come across blonde-haired woman with black eyebrows? Look further just take a stroll on the famous and ‘chic’ Jalan Telawi 2 in Bangsar and you will come across a number of wannabe blondes. Plus, has anyone realised how innovative we are in replicating? A look at our streets will show an abundance of Mitsubishi Lancer (Wira) and Daihatsu Mira (Kancil) replicas on the street. By the way, for all you guys out there, don’t assume that installing a three-inch diameter tail pipe on your Lancer/Mira replicas permits you all to drive like Mika Hakkinen on the roads!

Habit No 6 – Cutting queues

Sometimes I wondered whether we have been taught to line up or take our turns in anything at all. The ‘queue-cutting’ disease not only infected those infamous bus stops or supermarkets, but also the classy five-star hotels. Just go to any buka puasa buffet in any hotel in town, and you would see how kiasu some bunch of Malaysians are even when they know the food is more than enough for everyone.

Habit No 7 – Disorganised and uncoordinated

Have you ever come across anywhere else in the world where a four-lane ‘highway’ would be reduced to a two-lane road in less than 100m without any warning signs? Or road conditions that would make even Tommi Makkinen (of the Mitsubishi World Rally Championship team) think twice about driving with his Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII? To experience this, please take the Jalan Damansara route from KL to Taman Tun Dr Ismail. Then you can appreciate how ‘skilled and experienced’ our engineers are in planning construction projects.

In short, we are far from world-class standards. We can be proud with some of the best and latest infrastructures, but it is our principles and mentality that matter the most. Just take a look at some cities at Europe. Although they don’t have the most sophisticated buildings (most of their buildings are hundreds of years old), they are still considered sophisticated and world-class, for the culture and mentality of their citizens.

I may be no better than any of you guys, but if we want to be world-class, think about all these small but significant habits that could be changed. It is the small changes that would eventually result to big changes – let alone any reform in our thinking and principles that we readers have been arguing about in our letters!