Be nice on the road


Written on 1/29/2005 02:19:00 pm by sikapitan

The brutal death of Muhammad Nazri Ismail to a couple of road bullies certainly put things into perspective. It is a senseless death (if there ever was a sensible one) that makes you sick to the core. I’m not getting all emotional over him, though I do feel bad for his young family. We may never know the true account of what happened. It’s just that it makes me wonder about my own attitude and Malaysians in general when it comes to driving.

Teenagers nowadays carry with them more stress than ever before, ranging from peer pressure to pursuing academic excellence. Parents are coping with teenagers dealing with stress, which in turn leads THEM to become depressive. Adults carrying stress from home deal with other adults which causes even more tension. It comes to the point that every one is stressed out over one thing or another, and nothing reflects this more than when we drive. We vent out our frustration on the road. Some crave the quick fix adrenaline gives and drive like they’re trying to be Alex Yoong II (I don’t know why since Alex owes the government like millions of OUR money). Some prefer the relaxing nature of cruising like a tortoise. Others honked like its Mardi Gras while some like to cut lanes. I don’t know what’s going on in other countries, but I noticed that you can get the whole gamut of drivers just by cruising down the Federal Highway. Just yesterday I met with the typical Ah-Beng souped up Honda tearing down the highway, the blurry college girl going 60 on an 80 highway, the “You young kids don’t know how to drive-I’m always right” makciks and mak datins, the “I’m so busy I’ve to do my business over phone in the car while staying in the middle of the road” exec type, and of course the ever lovable Mat Rempits.

Malaysians seem to have vastly different attitudes when it comes to driving with sometimes the most basic principle cannot be agreed on. For example, I’ve come across some guy who rear-ended another car claiming it was that car’s fault to brake so suddenly, without realizing the cardinal rule of driving- maintain a safe distance. It is this attitude, perhaps easily simplified as “kiasu” but it goes much deeper than merely being selfish, that causes so many misunderstanding on the road. And when there’s a misunderstanding, the whole stressed-out mentality takes over. We go ballistic when someone says “Tapi awak tak bagi signal”. Maybe because we have so much pent-up anger inside of us that we decide that enough’s enough, and usually it’s during accidents that the can pops open.

I am not an angel on the road, but nor am I a devil (but a Red Devil nonetheless ;). I honk sometimes, I have cut one too many lanes, I have driven way way over the speed limit, and when I’m frustrated I like to pretend the road’s like those old arcade games where you just drive faster than anyone else down a straight road and overtake all these slower cars and a couple of rocks (man, I used to love that shit). I do play my music a wee bit too loud (close to Ah Beng-like, but with way cooler music :), and I have pointed one or two fingers along the way. I am short-tempered, and that’s what makes me fearful. This incident just highlights the point that someday you’ll just show a wrong finger to the wrong person, or honked at the wrong monster, or glared at the wrong taiko at the wrong time.

I must learn how to chill out. Sometimes I do manage to do so, especially if there’s some cool chill out music coming out from the stereo (Zero 7 is a good bet), and let things just slide. I let that guy cut my lane while paying the toll, I smiled when some dude turned without signaling, I put up my hand in understanding when someone take eons to parallel park. But the instances are much too infrequent to suggest that I’m calm on the road. I should be. It could save my life.

"Ok.ok.sedap sedap"


Written on 1/20/2005 01:30:00 am by sikapitan

I picked up an “uncle” (whose identity shall remain a secret) at KLIA the other day (he was from K.Terengganu). While the trip itself was decidedly uneventful (in fact, I have decided that we HAVE to drive above the speed limit on THAT particular highway to avoid going to sleep – and don’t forget to pump up the stereo), he said something which resonated inside my head (some might add the word hollow).

It came about, like all good things, unexpectedly. I passed through the SmartTag lane, and like we’ve seen quite often, the bar refused to budge. There on the display the words “KAD TIDAK SAH” was boldly highlighted together with that piercing alarm sound. I’ve been through this a couple of times so I knew it was nothing more than the machine acting up, and true enough the PLUS attendant quickly corrected the situation. We quickly continued with our journey, but the “Uncle” said that he was uncomfortable with PLUS saying that my SmartTag is not valid, as if I am using an imitation, and that it amounted to some form of defamation. I said that it’s normal for these things to happen in KL. He answered, “Tuh la orang KL. Semuanya biar saja.” And while I was at first inclined to correct him on that point, I took a moment and realized that he might be on to something. While I would have considered the PLUS incident to not be worth shouting about, I admit that there are plenty of incidences or situations that we (not only KLites but Malaysians in general) feel truly uncomfortable or have taken offence to but have done nothing to rectify.

Rude service at restaurants is one prime example. While I do admit that the service has generally improved, especially at renowned establishments, it isn’t perfect. In fact we Malaysians put up with a lot of things that our counterpart in the developed nations would never tolerate. Perhaps we should re-introduce the whole tipping thing and remove the service tax. Maybe then our waiters and waitresses would be more willing to be friendly and efficient. As it stands, I am one of those who are generally uncomfortable with returning food, or asking it to be reheated etc2, for I have learned that it doesn’t pay to piss off the servers. Let me assure you ladies and gentleman, from what I hear from my chef-trained and part-time expert friends, it goes way beyond merely spitting in your soup.

The services at government institutions are even worse. Far from saying it’s the norm, but we have all been through some form of bureaucratic hell. Those studying in public universities would probably understand that sinking feeling when something goes wrong in your exam slip or registration because it would mean dealing with drones who, and I do understand this, are as motivated as me wanting to pick up a Kavadi. Why should they bust their ass to settle our problem when their tenure is virtually guaranteed and promotions settled through seniority rather than meritocracy? But hey, I remember it being much worse when I was younger and queuing up to renew my passport so I guess there has been improvements.

I do believe that all these inefficiencies and general lack of care when it comes to service is due to our own inability to take a stand and speak up. We Asians are non-confrontational, and this has been mistaken for politeness. But I don’t think you should equate being a pussy with being mannered. In fact, it’s even rude not to correct a wrong if it could help someone else. How many times have you feel that you have been ill-treated but you just take it lying down? Another reason could be our non-litigious nature when it comes to dispute settlement. For example, a spilt coffee which burned somebody fingers would probably be settled here with a free meal and a “sincere apology” card while in the United States (the land of tort actions) that guy would probably bankrupt the restaurant. Perhaps the time has come for our citizens to be educated of their rights and legal avenues available. The Consumer Tribunal is a good start, but unless a lesson is made (and by that I do mean serious amount of cash) corporations, government institutions and individuals would not be afraid of the legal consequences of their action. Furthermore, our dispute settling bodies (judiciary, non-judicial) are stretched to their limits trying to deal with cases and disputes. This is before Malaysians start suing for slipping on wet floors or power failures!!! In fact, it is said that to proceed with a typical civil suit it would take more than 2 years minimum. Who would want to go through that?

Like I said before, I prefer to just keep quiet, eat up and never come back. But I think this year I’ll stand up for myself a lot more. Just not in a restaurant. Trust me on that.



Written on 1/15/2005 04:15:00 pm by sikapitan

It is the New Year, and time for new beginnings, supposedly. But let us not forget the past, for it is in the past that we have the prologue to the future. In a year where the Americans re-elected a loose-cannon hell-bent on imposing his will on the world, where the Thai Army made sardines out of shirtless young men, there are lessons to be learned.

I'm not finished with NS!
The first installment of the much-hyped about National Service started last year, and at a staggering cost of RM500 million (I bet it’s much more than that), can we say that it has made much difference? I propose that some university undertake a 5 year nationwide study on the effects of National Service on its participants and non-participants. It should be interesting isn’t it? Especially since that money can be spent on more important things like…getting better ambulances and medical facilities in government hospital, no? This year’s edition promises more, but ultimately will prove to offer nothing.

Mention the word tsunami and we generous Malaysians just open up our wallets, Alhamdulillah. Thankfully, so has the rest of the world. Which begs me to wonder, being so close to ground zero and all, have we done enough? And I’m not just talking about helping other countries but our own. Foreign artists held concerts and made individual contributions (Leo DiCaprio and Sandra Bullock, just to name a few) amounting to millions of ringgit. What have our artists done to contribute? Certainly I’m not asking for them to come up with millions and millions of ringgit, but where’s the charity concert, the plea for aid, television specials? THEY certainly were very enthusiastic when it comes to pleading that we don’t purchase pirated copies of their albums (as well we should, because it HAS really become quite pathetic, our local albums I mean). THEY were most definitely teary-eyed when trying to tell us how we fans made them what they are. So where are they now when MALAYSIANS, their fans, are counting on them? There’s no telethon, no special feature, no advertisements calling for contributions. Absolutely pathetic.

Talking about pathetic, what about our fellow Muslim countries, namely our oil-rich gulf states? Their government made a mockery of Islam when they only managed to cough up measly sums to help fellow Muslims. Saudi Arabia initially offered US$ 10 million, but after international outrage they “generously” tripled that amount. It doesn’t matter. The fact is that they make at least 10 times of that amount in A SINGLE DAY from oil sales. Considering that their income REALLY does come from nature itself, I would have thought they would be more respectful of God’s ability to take what’s given. Look at what the Americans and Europeans cough up to help us Asians. I don’t care if people say that it’s just a way for them to colonize us again and make us weep and beg, if it save lives then I’m all for it.

At the other end of the spectrum is the emotionally-unstable emo clan who goes on and on about how sad life is and how cruel God is and how we should all drop what we’re doing and go over there to built some shack. I do care, but life goes on you know? We all can do our part in it. By some weird logic (typical of me), even shopping can contribute. See, the world is one big interconnecting maze where people from one side of the world inevitably owe their existence to people from the other. When we purchase Nike goods, we are indirectly contributing to the Indonesian factory workers, regardless of how they have been so ill-treated. Or when we purchase software made in India, part of it goes to their national tax which will in turn be used to help the victims of tsunami. Hey, I know I’m stretching it but we play the hands that we’ve been dealt with yea?

However, if you do have your own money, and willing to contribute, here are some links to sites accepting credit-card donations. May God bless you all.

Dearest Ideal Girl


Written on 1/07/2005 11:15:00 pm by sikapitan

Got this from a friend who got this from another friend who got it from god-knows-who..and i seriously cannot figure out if it's serious or just a practical joke..but isn't it a wonder that lawyers and law students always bear the brunt of some seriously biased jokes? It would be good, in this moment of extreme grief and sadness (I cannot fathom the scope of destruction left by the tsunami, thus I leave it to you readers to fully comprehend the catastrophe that we have faced and are facing today without me), to take a moment and laugh, remembering that life goes on, and in it there will always be laughter and tears.
Dearest Ideal Girl,
I am very happy to inform you that I have fallen in love with you since Saturday, the 9th October 2004 at Greenlane. With reference to the meeting held between us on the 9th of October 2004 at 1500 hours, I would like to present myself as a prospective lover. Our love affair would be on probation for a period of three months and depending on compatibility, would be made permanent. Of course, upon completion of probation, there will be continuous on-the-relationship training and relationship appraisal schemes leading up to promotion from lover to spouse.
The expenses incurred for coffee,wines and entertainment would initially be shared equally between us. Later, based on your performance, I might take up a larger share of the expenses. I request you to kindly respond within 30 days of receiving this letter, failing which, this offer would be cancelled without further notice and I shall be considering someone else.
I would be happy, if you could forward this letter to your sister, if you do not wish to take up this offer.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Yours sincerely,
Lawyer Boy
Whatever you guys do, please don't use this letter as a blueprint to woo a girl. On the other hand, I've seen how self-depreciating jokes can actually break the ice and make the girl see that you're not so serious. Maybe it was a mistake to put it up in the blog. I could use it someday....