OLDER Malaysians will recall how in the 1960s, 70s and maybe even in the 1980s our teachers would come every Monday to inspect our finger nails, the back of our necks, uniforms and shoes for cleanliness.
They drilled into us the importance and sense of responsibility we must exercise in so far as cleanliness, civic consciousness and personal hygiene go.
As a senior citizen, I try to commute by public transport using trains and buses. And each trip is a test of tolerance.
My observation is, generally, Malaysians who join the rush-hour crowds to work and home lack in civic consciousness and rate offensively on personal hygiene.
Men in particular tug along tote bags that smell. They wear jackets that also emanate a foul mouldy smell.
Many carry bags over their shoulders or backs, indifferent to the fact that these bags keep invading the nasal spaces of those seated in the trains.
On rainy days the umbrellas create a mess inside buses and trains as many do not care to use umbrellas that have a collapsible casing to contain dripping water.
The list of lack of civic consciousness is unending. It includes not giving up seats to pregnant women and senior citizens to keeping shopping bags on seats.
When there is standing room only, shoulder to shoulder, you better be ready for the body odour from armpits, hair and clothes.
We have to tackle this absolute lack of personal hygiene consciousness and a growing indifference to civic mindedness.
Whatever was lost despite the many years of school inspections needs to be reinstated as the government remains determined to promote public transport.
Perhaps the transport operators should come up with a PR blitz to educate commuters on the need to have good personal hygiene and to demonstrate a high sense of civic mindedness in buses and trains.
Employers should also join in the re-educating by including personal hygiene and considerateness among their staff as an important key performance index .
Media owners too can help publish these concerns in their respective newspapers, online news portals, radio and television.
Public transport commuters must know that there is an element of social responsibility here worthy to be propagated and observed as a hallmark of Malaysians.
If you are riding or driving who cares how your helmet stinks or how unkempt and smelly your car is.
But if you board a bus or train please Malaysians demonstrate that our national sense of personal hygiene and civic mindedness is commensurate to that of developments all around us.
J. D. Lovrenciear