Appalling lack of civility in society

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Who is to be blamed for the behaviour of Ugly Malaysians – the authorities, their parents or our education system, wonders Benedict Lopez.

Malaysia’s sustained efforts to attain developed nation status should not only focus on economic accomplishments alone.

It is equally important that these efforts should encompass socio-political transformation and a change in the people’s mindsets.

The lackadaisical attitude among many Malaysians towards the law and behaviourial norms is deeply disturbing, certainly a disgrace. It demeans our society in the eyes of the world.

Take a walk in any residential area – including areas like Bangsar, which is an affluent neighbourhood – and you can see dog poop on the roads and lanes. Don’t these owners realise the nauseating foul smell it causes and the possibility that some unfortunate soul might step on these droppings especially at night?

My neighbour’s cat makes it a point to do its business often in my little garden. I was returning home after my walk one morning when I saw the cat sitting on top of my car. No wonder there were scratches all over the car. The owner is aware of it but gave me a flimsy excuse that it is the work of stray cats! These are the same two cats I saw the owner carrying on his shoulders when entering his house. Home owners should keep their pets within their premises.

And look at the rubbish strewn all over the place. These perpetrators expect Kuala Lumpur City Hall or Alam Flora workers to clean up the mess. Such deliberate littering is done by some residents who do not care a toss for their fellow residents.

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Then, we see youngsters riding motorcycles in residential areas, most of them without safety helmets. Many are students who most likely do not have a motorcycle licence. Where are their parents? Do they know their children are riding motorcycles illegally, endangering their own safety and that of innocent pedestrians?

Let’s not forget the motorists who intentionally ignore pedestrians crossing at traffic lights. Recently, two young women on a motorcycle tried to beat the traffic light and just missed hitting me by a few feet. When I yelled out at them, the pillion rider directed a vulgar sign at me. I was horrified at the woman showing a vulgar sign to someone older than her.

Not too long ago, I saw a motorcyclist in Jalan Bangsar getting off his motorcycle at the traffic lights. Using his helmet, he smashed the windscreen of a tourist coach. The driver had honked at him earlier to reproach him for his careless riding.

Follow the traffic rules by driving carefully, and you will face the fury of other drivers honking and flashing their lights at you because you are holding them up.

I am aghast when I see motorists texting even while driving. Motorcyclists are also at it, one hand steering the motorcycle and the other on the phone.

It looks as if mobile phone addiction has replaced drug addiction in the country! Even pedestrians too are focused on their mobile phones instead of looking both sides of the road at the traffic lights to look out for deliberatively inconsiderate drivers always trying to beat the lights.

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The police should charge these lawbreakers in court and request the magistrate to send them for psychoanalysis.

Take a trip on the light rail transit in Kuala Lumpur, and observe the disgraceful behaviour of some of our youngsters. Shamelessly, they occupy seats reserved for senior citizens, expectant mothers and people with disabilities. Many pretend to look the other side or into their mobile phones or read a book or the papers when they see commuters who need these seats more than them.

I reported it to a Rapid KL employee, who responded by informing me to tell these commuters that some seats are reserved. Rapid KL should have officers boarding the LRT and advising commuters about reserved seats.

The key question is, who is to be blamed for such apathy and errant behaviour? The authorities or the parents? Or has our education system failed to inculcate values in our children?

Have any of our lawmakers highlighted the revolting behaviour of these Ugly Malaysians in Parliament? It is high time our MPs bring these matters up as they warrant serious consideration.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. An eternal optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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Andrew
Andrew
7 Jun 2019 3.18am

The problem with civic apathy starts with the parents and in school. The moral subject in school is taught only to non Muslim students. The Muslim students learn Arabic lessons during this time. Many of these Muslim children grow up to become parents who will not instil the proper values in their children.

The non Muslim children without strong guidance from their parents learn how not to follow the rules and soon learn to be like the others.

In families with strong guidance and examples from parents, whether Muslim or otherwise, the children remain rule-abiding.

LEE LING
LEE LING
9 Jun 2019 9.16am
Reply to  Andrew

There are a handful of young persons who have offered their seats to me on theLRT but generally it is true most are blind to those who need the seats more. I always tell any elderly person to accept an offered seat rather than decline it. It’s never too late to educate our young adults to be considerate and reinforce the values of our culture..