Let’s look to honour and integrity

WHAT defines a nation? Its people and its culture and I had the opportunity to witness Japan's populace and its culture/pop culture during my recent visit.

Needless to say I was taken up by their courteousness, standards of hygiene and warmth. A structured and self-sustaining society, I was in awe at how they perform their tasks with honour and pride: The train drivers, the station masters, the cab drivers and even the garbage collectors. Vehicles are spick and span along with streets that are free of litter. Punctuality is crisp and that scared me.

The vast railway network in Japan is a sight to behold and I simply could not fathom the size of the train stations that accommodate hordes of people that scurry around in an orderly fashion without colliding into one another.

Advanced technology was evident everywhere from trains to even toilets. The Shinkansen (Bullet Train) experience is one I will cherish for life.

Let's not go into the food. I was traumatised before I left Malaysia that I would not get savoury food to satisfy my taste buds, I was wrong! True Japanese food is in Japan! It's simply mouth watering.

And pop culture, anime, Cosplay and games: Akihabara, Tokyo, is the Mecca of it. I was lost in a world of wonders and spoiled for choice leaving me dumbfounded on what not to buy!

The Unicorn Gundam at Diver City Plaza is further testament to Japan's initiative to groom a society that thrives on pushing the boundaries of imagination, innovation and creativity.

On the back burner, I am indeed glad I got this experience.

The Look East policy mooted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was not in vain as it is indeed one to inspire Malaysians to emulate a culture that is pertinent for the growth of the nation.

As Malaysians, I personally think we have a long journey forward in comparison to the Japanese.

There's no point chanting "Malaysia Boleh" when all that is "Boleh" is talk and no action. Honour, resilience, precision and integrity are the qualities I witnessed: Why not emulate it here?

Murali Rajaratenam
Kuala Lumpur