I very almost missed the check-in at MAS counter and as a result I could only get one of the worst seats on the plane, in the smoking area. At that time they had the ridiculous idea that it was fine for non-smokers if the puffers were kept to the back of the plane.
When the passengers on either side of me started to light up their cigarettes, I found myself gasping for breath. I had to ask the stewardess for a change of seat because I could not cope with this for the next 16 (?) hours. I could see the plane was full and she would have a problem getting me another seat. To get some respite from the smokers I had to get out of my seat and take a 'walk' away from the two and other chimneys in the rear of the plane. Then about half an hour or so I was informed that they had got a seat for me in the non-smoking zone. I almost cried with relief.
As I packed my stuff I saw a young Malay man approaching to take over the infernal seat. I realized then that he had responded to the stewardess's effort to help me by giving up his non-smoking seat. As I left, I grasped his hand and said, "Terima kasih 'nak. Macik tak tahan asap rokok". He smiled and said "Tak apa macik".
I was taken to a seat next to an aisle seat. The young Malay man stood up to let me through, made sure I had settled down properly before he sat down. He asked me in English, "Auntie okay now?" I smiled a grateful 'yes'. I then informed him that I'm actually a macik, in other words a Malay. He was taken aback and apologized for getting it wrong. I assured him that this happened to me all the time. After all I had a Chinese grandmother! He nodded and smiled.
There were 6-8 other young Malays sitting nearby. They all had the same haircut typical of men in the Services. They were neatly dressed, long-sleeved shirts and slacks and neck ties. I found out later they were ratings from TLDM (Royal Malaysian Navy) and had just ended a training stint in a new Destroyer that had been purchased by the NAVY.
Their bearing and manners were immaculate and faultless.
I smile whenever I recall this experience. After the meals, my young neighbour would very kindly ask me if I needed to go for a 'comfort stop'. I though that was so considerate of him. Whenever I did, he would remove himself completely from his seat and stood to the side to let me through. The whole scenario was repeated when I returned to my seat.
Much later, the young man who took over my seat from hell came to see me and inquired, "Macik selesa sekarang?" I nodded my head, smiled and thanked him.
Bless them all, bless the training they had, bless TLDM for producing these kind and caring Malaysians. And they did all this without bothering who they were doing it for. That is Satu Malaysia from nearly 20 years ago!
Two weeks ago, when the spouse was resting in the Hospital, I would wander off to Mydin for a bit of shopping. Of course my 'bit' ended up with a full basket. When it came to my turn to pay at the cashier, the young Malay man who was before me, lifted up my laden basket to place it on the counter. He had almost exactly the same haircut and same straight bearing of those TLDM men on that MAS flight.
Yesterday, on my way home from Immigration Damansara the meter on the taxi chalked up the lowest fare of all my six taxi trips. The taxi driver had just started his new occupation. He told me he had only recently retired from the Army.
What training do they give to such members of the Armed Forces to make them a cut above the rest? Can this be transferred to the other Government Departments, to the schools and Universities? Please????
|A Malay Man from A.W. Hamilton's "Malay Proverbs"|
I know I've been slagging off most things Malaysian. We are not the most efficient and well-organized country but I believe there's a core of softness and decent flexibility which is absent in some robotically-efficient and many developed countries. Malaysia has an accommodating heart - that is why those who originate from foreign shores can gain entry and gain a livelihood here , even though they now kick up such a stink about their so-called plight.
Orang yang kenyang kalau di jamu, lauk yang sedap di-kata tawar.
A well-fed man if offered food
Will say nice dishes are no good.
Those who are with good things sated
Often call them over-rated.
From Malay Proverbs, Bidal Melayu, A.W. Hamilton , 3rd Edition 1947 (First Edition 1937)
That last taxi driver who took me home yesterday by the shortest route reminded me of the generous and unsolicited kindness of some members of Malaysia's Defence Forces to a litle old lady.
Now that we have the movie 'The Last Communist'. Can we have another of 'The Last Pahlawan' ?
Oh yes, mission successful at Immigration Damansara yesterday.