Thursday, June 6, 2013

Of toilets and political responses by Marina Mahathir - The STAR

Politics is not going to solve all our problems. Our dirty toilet habits are our own and we only have ourselves to blame, not others, nor the Government.
ONLY in Malaysia can I talk about toilets and still get a political response.
I was visiting Japan and commented about the super high-tech toilets there that do everything except make coffee (although that may well be coming soon) and some people still responded by blaming the Government for our dirty public toilets.
It’s enough to make any person get off social media before we lose our sanity permanently but this obsession with everything political is surely unhealthy and often misplaced.
Our dirty toilet habits are our own and we only have ourselves to blame, not others, nor the Government. Even if the Opposition became the government, we are not going to turn overnight into conscientious public toilet users.
That is, pun intended, a pipe dream.
Any visitor to Japan will not help noticing the extreme civic consciousness that the Japanese have.
On every train, there are signs and announcements reminding you to not talk on your mobile phones because it is likely to annoy others.
There are reminders that smoking can be irritating to non-smokers, even in special smoking rooms.
There is no litter to be seen anywhere and public toilets have special sound effects to mask your personal sounds, should you have any.
The service in restaurants and stores is beyond exemplary.
I left something in a restaurant restroom and only realised this an hour later.
A quick call to the restaurant elicited a promise to look for it once they get a chance (it’s a very popular restaurant).
An hour later, I got a call back to say that they found it.
On another occasion, the hotel concierge walked us to a nearby restaurant so we would not get lost.
Any question we asked was responded to with excruciating detail so we could not possibly misunderstand instructions or directions.
Sales assistants walked us out their front doors and bowed us farewell, even if we bought very little compared to others.
All pavements have yellow pathways for the convenience of the sight-disabled.
It is enough to make any visitor to Japan want to return often.
It is safe, clean and hassle-free.
Trains and buses arrive and depart at exactly when they say they will.
The only problem with Japan is the language.
If you don’t speak Japanese, you miss a lot of fine details.
Still, there is more English spoken and written today compared to when I lived there 27 years ago.
Furthermore, all you have to do is to look lost and someone is bound to offer help in perfect English.
The other problem is cost.
No matter how you look at it, and no matter what economic crisis Japan goes through, it is an expensive country to visit.
It is possible to eat and move about cheaply but by Japanese standards, not ours.
Still, for the many advantages of visiting the country, it’s probably worth it.
Which brings me back to our own. What would it take to become a country like Japan?
If it’s a lack of corrupt leaders, Japan has its fair share.


Anonymous said...

Probably she sees these things only in the places that she visits.One only sees the truth when one lives there.

Unknown said...

Anon 6:52 - if that's the case, Malaysians who live overseas/ or have migrated have no idea what Malaysia is all about, since they don't live there.