When all things remain equal

WHEN all things remain equal, what is preventing us from doing that extra bit? Why do we need to be reminded time and again that humility costs nothing and earns everything?

Recently I was at a government hospital and there were notices at every nook and corner, or rather it sounded like a stern warning that the hospital will not tolerate abusive behaviour from patients and that it may result in the perpetrator being denied treatment at the hospital.

I thought it was a fair statement and it should work both ways. While there is a recourse for the hospital against unbecoming behaviour from the patients and outsiders, what is the remedy for crude and rude behaviour from the staff.

I was in Tokyo recently and what amazes me about the Land of the Rising Sun is the excellent timekeeping which comes with the culture. Habitually and consciously everything works in unison, man and machines included. The need to respect others with timekeeping is something we take for granted.

At a recent event, I was caught off-guard because it was not the Malaysia I thought I knew.

I was at KL Sentral with my family waiting to board the Komuter to Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam. We arrived at 9.20pm and the information board declared that the next train would arrive at 10.27. There were polis bantuan (auxiliary police) personnel at the platform to basically keep people off the yellow line.

People went up to the uniformed personnel asking why they had to wait that long as train arrivals were supposed to be more frequent.

With a smirk painted on their face, they gave nonchalant answers like "don't know". When 10.27 came and went unceremoniously without the train and the platform was bursting and bustling with anxious people arriving from either end of the city, the personnel didn't make any attempt to address the queries and the anxiety that was building up.

Finally, the train arrived 15 minutes late, full, with no room for any more passengers. Some commuters were getting off and were trapped as the platform was packed. At one point, a group of rowdy young teenagers got off the train pushing down an elderly gentleman and dragging him for some distance in the frenzy.

A war of words ensued and both parties were at the verge of fighting. Some good Samaritans eased the situation but what saddens me is that neither the polis bantuan nor the KTM staff came to the scene.

I am sure the platforms are fitted with CCTV cameras and it beats me as to why KTM staff didn't think it was important to take responsibility. It could have escalated into a stampede.

In Batu Caves, it was another case of ignorance and arrogance by the organisers resulting in chaos at some locations. While the organisers' full attention was at the stairs, there was no crowd management at the periphery. About 100m leading to the Komuter station, it was a standstill with the people not being able to move in any direction.

Batu Caves during Thaipusam has become a shopping destination and hawker centre with stalls on both sides of the walkways reducing the foot path into a narrow and disorderly blob.

A religious event turns out to be a fanfare pushing the religious significance to a tidy corner.

Coming back to Tokyo, during peak hours at stations, officers manage situations professionally and very importantly, again, courtesy goes a long way.

There was not an occasion I was lost travelling by train in Tokyo as the signboards were clear and there were always officers at strategic locations speaking enough English to help commuters and the public.

This is a far cry from where we are, despite boasting Malaysia is a choice destination for holidays, we get caught up with politics in just about everything we do forgetting where the focus should be.

Incidentally, family and friends from overseas have been commenting on the long wait for immigration at KLIA and klia2 and this needs to be sorted out. While Malaysians get out quickly the foreigners get trapped in long queues. Again, managing the situation saves the day. When the queues for Malaysians are free, why can't the foreigners jump lanes?

Our manners and courtesy are something that will always be remembered by others. People can forget everything about you but not how you made them feel. Courtesy is not a choice, but a must.

By the way, if you need to know what courtesy and efficiency look like in the Malaysian context, walk into KWSP in Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, they rock with their exemplary service culture.

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com