Constructive Bashing: Public Transportation. Or should it be ‘Putrid’?

October 20, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Posted in Thoughts | 7 Comments
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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.

7 Comments »

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  1. Well you can always write about all the negative aspects of M’sia and then conclude by saying how much you still love “tanah tumpahnya darahku”. You don’t write in BM, do you?

  2. lev, u free on nov 17th, my church got concert, i’m coming back on the 15th november. let’s go for it, call tan, tang, jeff, ooi whoever go cc man. lazy to send email : p

  3. Bob:

    My BM writing days are long gone. And I don’t miss ’em much.

    Matt:
    Whole day of classes on Monday… can lah. Call you on Tues. Or you call me in case I forget. Work out the details then.

  4. sweat…

  5. The word ‘constructive’ means it must be helpful in some way. I don’t think what the Uncyclopedia entry did can be called ‘constructive bashing’, it was more like vulgar abuse. It wasn’t even all that witty.

    That aside, did the I.S. minister really issue a warning? O.o I would never have thought someone in office would stumble across the article, much less bother worrying about it. Everyone knows Uncyclopedia is basically full of c***. Now if the article was on Wiki……

  6. My definition of ‘constructive’ is rather broad. Like, no matter how I bash something, if the target manages gather itself together after the attack and realise that it can progress as a result, well and good. The Uncyclopedia entry on M’sia was meant to be a comparison to my own methods of bashing, as can be seen from the wording:

    “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:)”

    Despite all the insults in it, it’s quite helpful in cultivating an impartial gallery, where people can read it and laugh at themselves, recognising their national faults through all the garbage. As some famous person once said, and I’m probably paraphrasing, “he who can laugh at himself is the wisest”. Sounds awfully Confucian.

  7. Don’t worry, I get your brand of constructive bashing. And it is constructive. ^^ It’s only your wording of ‘reached the level of’ which implies that the Uncyclopedia entry is on the same scale, and I don’t think it is. Hence, the comment.

    Saa~ maybe Confucius did say something like that. The closest I can think of is this quote by Mark Twain (of which the exact wording eludes me) ‘I’ll never join any organization which would accept me as a member.’


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