SINGAPORE, This is my third year in this island republic and I have certainly learnt a lot about the country and its people.
Undoubtedly Singapore is a developed nation and hence obviously enjoys good ratings when comes to security, cleanliness, efficiency, harmonious living and the list goes on.
Each time I return home and share my admiration for the neighbouring country in the South, my friends will tease me saying I have an inbuilt pre-disposition towards the city-state that was once part of Malaysia.
However, my observations are real and I feel that there are many things that Malaysians can learn from Singaporeans in creating a courteous and highly civilised society.
Though some frown over the kiasu culture (selfish attitude) in some segments of the society, here are some of my findings that tell of the real Singaporeans that many don't know.
While queuing up at a drink shop at Tanglin Mall, a Caucasian in front of me ordered fruit juice without sugar. The cashier turned towards the person making the drink and there was a long tete-a-tete between them.
As time was running, the thirsty Caucasian lost his cool and vented out his displeasure: What's keeping you up for this simple drink?
The cashier quickly turned towards the customer replied politely: Sorry sir, we were trying to figure out how much we can reduce the price for your drink as you have requested your drink without sugar.
The Adam Rd Food Court is my favourite haunt when comes to taking my friends and family members from Malaysia for a treat.
A hungry friend once felt let down when a soup stall there served him soup and bread instead of soup and rice as requested. Moreover, the pot of rice on the serving counter is visible to all.
Feeling something amiss, I intertwined. I inquired with the owner of the stall why he did not to serve rice with the soup as ordered.
Ma'am, the rice is not properly cooked answered the owner and he gave me a spoon full of the rice for me to taste. Sure enough the rice was hard.
But I told him if the rice is soaked in the soup, it will turn soft. The owner was more than happy to provide a plate of rice for which he only charged half of the price.
My nephew who lives in Shah Alam tried Singapore's MRT that connects the city state. And he was certainly impressed with its efficiency, the cleanliness of the trains and stations, and the discipline of the commuters.
It is good to see they queue up. There is no need to jostle with the crowd, he said in comparison with the commuter train line that he used to take back in Shah Alam.
He also noted that not many rubbish bins provided at the MRT stations but the stations appeared clean all the time.
They can save on the cost involved in managing the waste, he said after being told commuters are not allowed to smoke, eat and drink at the stations.
I myself had witnessed a student being reprimanded by an MRT worker for eating chocolate in the train and I too was ticked off for taking a sip of water from the bottle at the MRT platform.
While covering the Selangor Sultan Cup match at the Singapore National Stadium, supporters of both sides came with food and drinks to watch the 90 minute match.
Big rubbish bins were placed on several locations on both sides of the stadium.
After the match, I saw Singaporeans discarding the drink cans, bottles and other waste into the bins on their side.
On the other side several workers could be seen picking up the rubbish from the seating area left behind by Malaysians.
Even during major events, including international expositions attended by the thousands, the restrooms at the venue will remain clean, and the tissues and soaps replenished.
The cleaners are stationed in the restrooms to ensure that the facilities remain clean. The same goes to the restrooms at the MRT stations.
One evening, I was walking in the rain from a bus stop about 300 meters away from my place of stay.
Suddenly, I felt the rain had stopped. I was wrong, a lady had covered me with her umbrella. Let's walk together, the woman said.
On several occasions during my early days here where I had to drag my heavy bags across to the MRT Bugis station, the bags suddenly felt lighter.
There were some good Samaritans who pushed the bags and started conversations with me like they knew me.
While Singaporeans, especially of the younger generation, appear very individualistic and preoccupied with their handphones in the hand and the earphones plugged in the ears, they are actually a caring lot.
Just ask for direction, they will go out of their way to lend a helping hand.
Not just pointing to the left or right, they will take you the furthest they could. They will apologise profusely if they cannot help you.
They are also ready to help regardless locals or foreigners without being asked to help.
My only hope is that Malaysians too will appreciate the common courtesy and discipline of the Singaporeans and help create a wonderful society back home.
Source: NAM News Network