“Thalys Train (The Hague – Paris) Departure Time or Vertrek: 1936 ie. 7.36pm!”
As-Sarawaki, 28 June 2007: Praise be to The Almighty God, Allah SWT. In this entry, I would like to share with all honourable visitors an article written by Syed Nadzri dated September 29, 2005 as a food for thought and wisdom to be learned. One of the matters discussed in this article is about Malaysian’s bad sense of punctuality – ‘Malaysian Time’ or sometimes we call it as ‘Janji Melayu’. But, I would rather prefer to call this bad habit as ‘Janji Malaysia’ as it is not only being practised by the Malays, but also by the Chinese, Indian, Iban, Melanau, Kedayan, Kadazan, Bajau, Javanese, Bugis etc. After all.. This habit is really quite an annoying Malaysian trait!
From my experience working with the Japanese in Perodua and also from the culture that being inculcated in my current company – Shell (including my outstation assignments to South Korea and European Countries), I found that most of them are really punctual and taking punctuality as a serious matter. If a meeting is scheduled to be conducted for one hour for example from 9.00am to 10.00am, then it will start at 9.00am and will end at 10.00am. Moreover, as a live reference, please see the above photograph.. The departure time for the Thalys train from The Hague, The Netherlands to Paris, France is 1936 or 7.36pm! And exactly the train will depart at 7.36pm on the dot! But ever wonder in Malaysia.. Usually if the time set for the meeting or a function is at 7.30pm, then for sure it will start at 7.45pm or 8.00pm or even 8.30pm!
Hopefully we can improve this situation for the better, insya Allah! Any comment, please kindly leave your reply at the end of this entry. Thank you.
Eternally annoying Malaysian traits
By Syed Nadzri (29/09/2005)
You know you’re Malaysian when… you never RSVP invitations and you consider it normal to be one hour late for functions. These habits, unfortunately, are some of the not-very-positive things that have become so customary and even considered passable that they have the tendency to remain stuck in the Malaysianness in most of us.
That’s why perhaps we can still laugh off the delays and bad sense of punctuality. We even have a name for it – “Malaysian time”, which is somehow faithfully observed by many even when they are abroad.
And, I suspect, it was this Malaysian proneness to bad habits that brought nightmares of sorts to a friend as he got down to the brass tacks of a wedding reception he was organizing recently.
It being the second time he was getting married, the tension at that time was, strangely enough, not so much about what was to come after this marriage, but rather about what was going to happen at the reception itself.
He has far too many friends, contacts and relatives to invite but had to limit the number for obvious reasons.
He sent out close to 700 invitations (with RSVP requests) for the dinner at a five-star hotel.
With just three days to the event, he got back about 400 RSVPs – 300 accepting and 100 declining.
Taking into account that some of those who confirmed their attendance would be coming with their spouses, my friend put the figure at roughly 400 guests. That’s 40 tables.
“No, no,” I heard him telling the hotel staffer who was on the other end of the phone.
“When you lay the tables, I want you to leave an empty space at least 10 feet wide on the far end of the ballroom just in case more tables have to be opened to accommodate those who turn up without notice.
“I know the number of guests who confirmed is 400 but I can’t take chances with people who did not RSVP but still turn up.”
He must have been really strung out, the poor chap. But this is often the case with organisers of such events.
I still remember a dinner that was hosted by a senior minister at his residence not too long ago where those who turned up were not only those who did not RSVP but also those who were not at all on the list of invitations.
Imagine the embarrassment it caused the minister since it was a sit-down dinner.
He had no choice but to turn it into a buffet function because that was the only way to accommodate the large turnout.
Some expatriates say they experience a culture shock of sorts in Malaysia when it comes to RSVPs and invitations.
A diplomat who held a barbecue party recently said despite the request for RSVP, he still had to ask his secretary to practically call everyone he invited to confirm their attendance over the phone.
Malaysian Bad Sense of Punctuality – “Malaysian Time”
“Malay Proverb: Masa Itu Emas (Time is Gold)…”
“Malaysian time” is another trait that can be quite annoying.
Although Malaysians are not as bad as people in certain Middle East countries when it comes to punctuality, they are definitely way below the Japanese.
It has, therefore, become perfectly normal, for instance, for an invitation to state the time of arrival of guests at 7.30pm when the event in fact would only start at 8.30pm.
Even so, it is still common to see some guests making their grand entrance at 8.50pm.
And the favourite Malaysian excuse for being late is, more often than not, the traffic jam.
It’s in the same league as food poisoning being the reason cited for not turning up for work.
In fact, the food poisoning story, along with flu, is also a favourite even in the United Kingdom, according to a recent news report.
There is an old joke that’s now being circulated through email about things Malaysian – a whole list of them, some of which are not printable.
I don’t know who holds the “copyright” to the list but among the decent ones are the traffic jam bit as an excuse for being late and food poisoning as a fake illness for getting a medical chit.
The others include:
– national excuse for hair loss: instant noodles;
– national fake illness for getting medical leave (women): menstrual pain;
– national cure for headaches: Panadol. The “cure for all”.
If that fails, then Tiger Balm;
– national cure for dizziness: Minyak Angin Cap Kapak;
– national rubbish bump: anywhere, as long as it is not your house;
– national most-mis-pronounced name: Carrefour. Sometimes even pronounced
as “Carry 4”, just as local mechanics pronounce Peugeot as “Pew Jeot”; and,
– national roadside distraction: an accident on the opposite side of the road.
Wallahu a’la wa a’lam.