Constructive Bashing: Public Transportation. Or should it be ‘Putrid’?October 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Posted in Thoughts | 7 Comments
Tags: KLCC, Malaysia, Taxi, Tout, Uncyclopedia
Ever heard of the phrase ‘constructive criticism’? It sounds pleasant, but not for whoever’s on the receiving end, unless you were hoping for it. It’s quite closely related to one of my many hobbies, ‘constructive bashing’, where I basically tear the object(s) of my ire to charming little pieces. I’m not very patriotic, unless you count in loving my own bedroom, Kinokuniya, and certain restaurants-so not even the country itself escapes my torment (If you’re listening, take it and whimper along to your own room), although I’ve never reached (nor ido I intend to) the level of whoever authored the Uncyclopedia entry on Malaysia (Which even led to the Internal Security Ministry issuing a warning to journalists not to trust the site). Go read it, it’s quite fun:)
I have to admit, however, that there are plenty of elements present in our everyday lives that don’t require a single ounce of constructive bashing. They’re not seraphic angels. The only reason that they are able to escape the ritual bash is because they do it to themselves every day. It’s sad, really, to see people (note: Just because I said people doesn’t mean it always has to be a person. It could be a monkey. Or a mudpie running for public office) ruin their reputations while doing whatever it is that compulsive idiots do.
I’m talking about Malaysian taxi drivers. Sure, they’re not all bad- it’s just that idiots have greater visibility compared to the good guys. I was waiting outside KLCC on a Friday evening, and as I walked back and forth I happened to overhear an interesting conversation between some tourists and one driver. I’m not sure exactly where the tourists had in mind, but he said something like, “Traffic jam, I go there I waste my petrol”. Yup. There was a massive jam going on. Still, aren’t they obliged to take people wherever they want to go as long as it’s within their prescribed area?
Here’s another one. I don’t know where this guy wanted to go, but the driver charged him RM100. The guy ran off. A driver stopped one guy, who asked him “Do you go by the metre?”, upon which the driver told him off: “You want metre? Go away lah!” My my. Let’s see… what else did they spill before me? They don’t bargain well, either. One girl was stopped by them, and she stated (shot it out, rather) her destination and price (RM5). When they all answered in the negative (and probably quoted some insane rate), she ignored them and moved on. That deserves some applause (OK I don’t really mean it, but she sure gave them the appropriate response). There’re multiple signs in front of the mall warning people not to encourage taxi touts. Wonder why the cops don’t do anything about them.
…noticed something interesting. Western tourists who realize that they’re being cheated will usually walk off. Arab tourists, on the other hand- just don’t seem to care, as long as they reach wherever they’re going to. I suppose they’re all loaded. Another thing- the only Arabs we ever hear of are the rich ones, and the poor ones. So just where is the middle-class Arab? Jakarta? Or KL, where they suddenly become rich people themselves?
Anyhow, I think the best scene I witnessed was the one where one driver stopped two big Westerners (here on business by the looks of it), and yet refused to accept them. Skinny China-man hooked some nasty fish. Most people (aforementioned travelers included) would have walked off, but no- those two stood their ground: “But you stopped me! You stopped me and asked me where I wanted to go!” After a short while- I’m not exactly sure as to what happened in between (perhaps the driver apologized)- the two walked off. And the drivers gathered around and had a good laugh. Not to mention a few coughs from all the cigarette smoke.
Now all that was quite entertaining (if a little depressing), but what really gets me is this: Do taxi drivers have the right to deny people their service, especially when the destination given is well within their ‘jurisdiction’? Whether they are obliged to use the metre is moot (note: I’m using the American definition here, so don’t get confused). Now’s your chance to shine, all you law lovers (Oi Contract-law lover Chrissy, you listening?). Go dig through all those law journals, or pester your lecturers for intel, to put my mind at ease. Meanwhile, I’ll be having a debate between my ears on whether I should join the MPH short fiction contest despite knowing that I’ll need to write something about Malaysia (not something I like to do) to even stand a chance of winning. I’m not taking admissions for the latter, in case you haven’t noticed the obviously obvious.