Saturday, 1 November 2008

Improving Civic Behaviour

While campaign after campaign to improve the civic consciousness of Malaysians appear to bear little fruit, Beijing residents appear to be more civic-minded after the Olympics. Beijing residents are notorious for their disgusting habit of spitting where ever and whenever they like. Other entrenched behaviours include queue jumping, indiscriminate dumping of garbage, littering and refusing to give up seats in public transports for the elderly and ladies. Going by Beijing's list, Malaysia is miles ahead; in addition to those listed, we can add several more for Malaysians: double and triple parking, shouting on the mobile phone, throwing rubbish or fruit skins out of
moving cars, blocking five-foot ways with motor vehicles or goods, peeing onto the floors and rims of public toilet bowls; not flushing after defecating in public toilets, ad infinitum.

We could take a leaf from the Beijing experience to improve our civic behaviour. Although viewed as a bizarre "civic index", it would be instructive to see how this index is used by the Beijing authority to change behavioral patterns. The paper noted that the most significant improvement was in the area of spitting.

Not so long ago Malaysia had a big problem with spitting. Coffee shops used to have spittoons under each table so that customers could indulge in their habit of clearing their throats and expelling their phlegm with gusto. There are still signs, not so common though, advising customers not to spit: "Dilarang meludah!".

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