The first degree…
Slightly more than 2 years ago (before I moved to Singapore), me and a bunch of friends made our way to Singapore for a sports event. A friend of mine brought his girlfriend along. For the girlfriend, it was her first holiday trip out of Malaysia.
No, my friend was not dating a young teenager. But rather, she is from a not so well to do family which limits her opportunity to travel overseas. Ya’ know, not everyone has the luxury to trot around the world and post pictures of such trotting over facebook.
Anyway... It was after a dinner function and me, my mate & his girlfriend with another mate wanted to go to Orchard Road. We hailed for a cab as we saw one coming.
As it stopped, I opened the door and immediately got into cab, only to realise that there was a little commotion taking place between my other mates and the girlfriend.
Do you know what happened?
My mate’s girlfriend was in complete shock that I just jumped into the cab without telling the cabbie where we wanted to go, obtain an agreement from the cabbie that he will take us there and succumb to a cut-throat price. She could not believe it, to the extent that she didn’t dare to get into the cab in that instance – needed some convincing.
You should have seen her reaction and what she uttered out in Cantonese – it was quite hilarious.
Later on in the trip, she continued to be shocked by the fact that public buses and MRT are on time… public toilets are clean… there are hardly any potholes on the road, the list goes on.
Let’s not term this as “katak bawah tempurung”. Like I said, some people are just not born into a fortunate family which allows them to occasionally jump out of the “tempurung”. And hence, for these Malaysians; who grew up in such environment – these people are abused by mediocrity without them knowing it. Mediocrity is not a choice, it’s just the way it is for these people.
The first degree of mediocrity… is when mediocrity is not known to be mediocrity.
The second degree…
Look into the mirror, chances are you will see one who falls within this category. Ya’ know, those of us who are fortunate to know about the outside world due to the luxury of physically jumping out of the “tempurung”. Such luxuries which give us the opportunities to realise that the room for improvement in so many things are huge.
But so what? We know things suck, and we just don’t give a damn. We are used to it. Mediocrity is a lifestyle. As long as you’re in Malaysia, it’s expected and accepted. We live with it.
The second degree of mediocrity… is when mediocrity is normality.
The third degree…
This was quite some time ago and I was travelling in a cab in Malaysia. Yup – the one where I have to tell the cabbie where I want to go, get an approval from him and be screwed in terms of fare.
I like to talk to cabbies – always an enlightening experience. And so, our conversation flowed from food to new roads being built to traffic jams and ended up with cars. Proton came into the picture. To cut the long story short, I made a comment about the infamous quality of Proton’s power (or powerless) window, to which the cabbie responded…
“Kenapa orang sering cakap pasal tingkap Proton? Mana ada tingkap kereta yang tak rosak lepas setahun? Saya dengar tingkap kereta Jepun pun rosak selepas setahun. Ini hah (referring to his Proton)… tingkap yang masih ok, lebih setahun dah. Ini hah Proton lebih baik dari kereta Jepun!”
[Why do people often talked about Proton’s window? Are there power windows that remain fuctional more than a year? I heard Japanese cars’ windows will be spoilt after a year too. This Proton of mine, the windows are still fine after a year. Proton is better than Japanese car!]
I soon realised he was not being sarcastic. He was serious. I was not against him defending Proton – but was astonished that he actually believed that Proton was better than any other car out there. The conversation continued to flow and this too came from him…
“Negara kita ada angkasawan! Negara lain mana ada. Indonesia ada? Singapura ada? Thailand ada? Ini bermakna Malaysia lagi hebat dari negara lain!”
[Our country had an astronaut. Other countries don’t. Does Indonesia have one? Does Singapore have? Does Thailand have? It means Malaysia is better than other countries!]
I do not know whether I should shatter the cabbie’s pride. Actually, I reckon I can’t. He was really into it. I can only pay tribute to the effectiveness of propaganda. And believe me, there are actually quite a number of people out there who falls within this category.
And hence, the third degree of mediocrity… is when mediocrity is believed to be superiority.