Civic consciousness is a thing sorely lacking in 3rd World countries. Of course, it is sorely lacking elsewhere as well, but that's more a thing of legalism and the fear of having your pants sued off you. Take for instance the taxi driver who crashed intentionally into a motorcycle with two snatch thieves, causing it to ram into a nearby tree and one of the thieves to have a broken leg. Or Joe Singh, who manages to make a citizen's arrest every week or so by using his superbike to crash intentionally into... can you just imagine what would have happened in the US, where they can sue you if they broke into your house through the roof and hurt themselves in the process?
No, unfortunately, civic consciousness (and the lack thereof) in Malaysia is caused not by legal moronicism, but by the simplest thing of all; apathy. Otherwise known as the 'tidak apa' (doesn't matter) attitude, or the 'frog-in-slowly-boiling-water' syndrome.
A public exhibition and roadshow is under way right now, showcasing the latest in toilet technology. Visitors to this lovely country will soon notice that our public lavatories are not lovely. They're not even sanitary, for that matter. We're not talking about graffiti on the walls; scrawls of lewd comments, phone numbers for gay blowjob offers, stupid yet funny poems, political comments and the like. No, that would make too much sense in a semi-repressive society. We're talking amount the vast majority of people here (a 60%) who, having come from a 'kampong' or village background, find the flush, and even the toilet bowl, a thing of novelty and most difficult to master. They shit and piss everywhere, and never bother to flush. Others, coming on their heels, don't bother either. Still others will simply choose other stalls (and who could blame them) or just hold it in until they get home (and who could blame them either).
Roadside litter is commonplace. People throwing it away or recycling it are rare. Older ladies crossing the road with a younger helper? That's almost unheard of. You may find a few folk ready to give up their seats in the bus/LRT/train, but I won't hold my breath too long.
And that's just the petty things. Nobody wants to become involved in politics unless they're rich or want the prospect to become rich. Our consumer's association is fangless and toothless. Our legal remedies for inter-religious issues have been systematically dismantled over the 49 years since independence. And all of this is because people do not want to rock the boat. Apathy, in a word. If it doesn't immediately, directly and visibly impact them, they don't want to do anything about it. They may grouse about it, make a whole lot of noise, but at the crunch, nothing gets done.
So. Put a live frog in boiling water and it will instantly jump out. Put that same frog in a pot of cold/room temp water and slowly bring it to the boil, and you'll get frog stew. You can see that apathetic people are a pathetic people.
Photoshop this group of unclothed beach goers [Photoshop]
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