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Monday, March 30, 2009

Efficiency’s a drag

If I may say, this "courtesy" thing cannot be originating from the government, but it does help if the government advocates this beneficial character trait to the citizens. Bottomline is, it starts from home.



COURTESY SHORTFALL

Letter from Joseph Wong


I refer to Nury Vittachi’s “They’re dead polite” (March 28-29). On a visit to Tokyo, I stayed at the Hilton and was going up to my room when a Japanese lady entered the lift. She bowed to me out of courtesy. When she got off at her floor, she stepped out, turned to me and apologised for having interrupted my lift ride.

I agree with Nury Vittachi that this sort of generous politeness has to come from the depth of a culture. I doubt it can be faked.

Contrast this to an experience at the recent IT Fair at Suntec City. A man at the top of the escalator was tasked with crowd control. With loud hailer in hand, he barked at the throng of people: “Move away from the escalator ... do not block the escalator!”

I waited to see if he would use the words “please” or “thank you”. No. Later, it was “keep moving, keep moving”! As much as I believe this man may be efficient at his job, I also think he is naturally impolite.

Our need to be efficient is probably the thing that keeps Singaporeans from making courtesy a way of life. We need to get everything done in the quickest time — a product of the productivity campaign back in the 1980s.

To become a courteous nation, Singaporeans must scale back on the importance of being efficient and learn to stop and smell the roses.

If we are to make courtesy part of our culture, we must emphasise it in every campaign. It would be great if we can get Singaporeans to apologise to other lift users for interrupting their ride.

But first, we need to educate them to stop urinating in lifts.


From TODAY, Voices
Monday, 30-March-2009