Saturday, January 07, 2006

Back to reality

In Singapore, we enjoyed the efficiency of buses, MRTs and taxis. In a few days, I knew what buses to take from where we were to Orchard. I knew how to take the bus to the nearest neighbourhood mall to meet with my cousin. In Orchard, my Singapore family waited a short while for me to get my MRT ticket as I didn't have the Ez-link travel card. I put in the correct amount, a card comes out. Every single time...

Then, I come back to Kuala Lumpur. A couple of days before the New Year, my friends from college wanted to meet up in PJ. Traffic everywhere was crazy. I thought I would take a train to Megamall to get a much-needed haircut before taking another train to meet my friends in PJ. Good plan, NOT!

I had to take a Putra LRT to KL Sentral to switch to the Komuter train to take me to Megamall. At the Ampang Park LRT station, I tried to use the vending machine to get me ticket. My fare was RM2.00. I put in the first ringgit. Then the machine refused to take my second ringgit. I had a RM5.00 not-so-new-anymore note with me. I put that into the machine and it got rejected. I tried the other two machines and got the same result. Please tell me why the machines have not been calibrated to take the now-one-year-old RM5.00 note. Finally, I went to get my ticket at the counter. The poor lady behind the counter was trying hard to keep up so that the queue won't get too long. I don't blame her for pulling a long face. The station wasn't even busy at the time. What happens at rush hour?

At KL Sentral, I tried using the vending machine again to get a ticket on the Komuter as the line at the counter was really long. Since my fare was RM1.00, I didn't have any problem getting my ticket quickly. Getting to Megamall and back to KL Sentral was not a problem. However, I couldn't help feeling slightly claustrophobic when waiting for the train. The escalator going down to the platform is narrow. The walkway from the escalator to the waiting area at the platform is also rather narrow. The whole place will never be able to cater to the kind of traffic that, eg, Orchard MRT station gets every day.

Anyway, I got my haircut in Megamall. So now I had to make my way to meet my friends. Komuter to KL Sentral to get on a Putra LRT to PJ. Easy peasy? Wrong! There were 7 machines at the KL Sentral that dispenses tickets for Putra LRT. The line at the counter was LONG! There wasn't any queue to the ticket machines. Then I find out why. My fare to PJ was RM2.10. Again the machine accepted one RM1 note and didn't accept another one after. I put in the plastic-please-it-is-not-new-anymore RM5 note into the machine. The RM5 got rejected. By this time, I was PISSED OFF! This is the KL Sentral for goodness sake! The machines in the KL "the hub of transportation in Kuala Lumpur" Sentral are not calibrated after the RM5 have been introduced for a year! I thought I'd use a RM10 note then. The FUCKING machine flashed "Please use a smaller denomination" on the screen. PASS ME A CROWBAR, SOMEBODY! Fortunately, I had an old RM5 with me, which got me my ticket. What if I didn't have the old RM5 note? I would have had to queue up to get my ticket from the counter. Might as well have called my friends to tell them I won't be able to make the appointment.

A few days ago, PT and I decided to watch King Kong in KLCC. Flipped the newspaper and got the number to call to book tickets. Could not get through after a few attempts. The number was constantly engaged. Finally, I manage to get through only to hear ringing until the line went dead. No one picked up the phone. Tried again several times and again, the line was engaged. PT finally managed to get through only to be told TGV in KLCC was not accepting booking for the time we wanted. We had to get to the cinema to queue up for tickets. We got our tickets, went into the cinema and got the same story - scratched prints and bad sound. We are paying more now to get the same what we used to get when we paid RM1.60, minus the sound of kwa chee shells under our feet.

Yesterday, we took the kids to see the Wallace & Gromit movie. I had gone online to book our tickets. I printed out our booking slip but forgot to bring it along when I changed handbag. At the ticket collection counter, I explained that I'd forgotten to bring my booking slip and did not know my booking number. The grumpy person behind the counter asked for my phone number. She keyed the number in and could not find my booking. I asked her to try again which she reluctantly did. When she couldn't find my booking again, she very curtly said she can't help me and I should go queue up. Her attitude made my blood boil! I told Patrick what happened and he went to try. He was at the same counter I was at and encountered the same rude counter staff. He demanded to see the manager. I could see look of panic on the other counter staff faces. The manager saw PT, went back to the terminal and keyed in my phone number again, this time by adding in a space or a dash and viola! My booking was there! Now, if the counter staff had been more patient and pleasant...

I have tried but do not think I will ever be able to understand the mentality of Malaysian companies, authorities, rakyat... Why is it so difficult to get something working right? Why is it so difficult to be pleasant? Why is it so difficult to maintain a place well? Why is it so difficult to have some pride in our products, our work, our property, ourselves? Reading about the young entrepreneur getting killed by a falling object at the construction site made me so angry. How can it be difficult to ensure safety at the workplace? What has the manager been doing, if not making his/her rounds to ensure the workers are complying to safety rules? Why is it that this developer has been allowed to continue work, after they've been found to flout rules?

What is happening here? Are we all waiting for Malaysia to be synonymous to "shoddy quality"? That quality Malaysian goods becomes an oxymoron? Frankly, I am fed-up of being on the receiving end of bad service, bad quality, bad maintenance and the tidak apa attitude.


Blogger Adriene said...

i think the malaysian roat transport department would do well to learn from the efficiency of s'pore's public transport.

not adulating singapore but giving credit where credit is due, i think.

the smooth-running and reliable public transport really makes it easy for me to get things done in sg.

2:33 am  
Blogger Eternity said...

and that is why we would never get rid of the traffic jam problem, min. nobody wanna use the public transport!

and i agree with you that there is absolutely no friendliness and service when required, anywhere.

3:06 pm  
Blogger JoMel said...

This is Malaysia. Welcome. :)

Having lived in S'pore for 13 years, the UK for 5, and subsequently in this country the past 8 years, I can see all the flaws more clearly than you.

The government depts are the ones which often leave me exasperated. Not to mention the post office which does not sell any boxes, and have vending machines which are often out of order! *Hmmpff*

Why do you think I wish I can now migrate to another country. Any country.

1:06 am  
Blogger Min said...

Eternity, I will take efficiency in anything! Why are the LRT stations and Monorail stations and Komuter stations not connected? Let's not even mention the taxis!

Adriene, somebody has got it right in Singapore lah. Most major interchanges have very well equipped public libraries. Even Bangkok, which is famous for chaos, is getting their act right. There is Skytrain and Metro going to and from Chatuchak now! One can get to almost anywhere in Siam Square/MBK without getting onto the road which is not pedestrian friendly.

JoMel, thoughts of emigration has come to my mind a lot lately...

2:26 am  
Blogger Lian said...

I echo your frustrations Min. The "Malaysian Mentality" is a very short sighted and selfish mentality. Sad that it has become a common excuse that people just brush off. I hope the next generation is better trained. Everything starts from the home and from the parents.

10:55 pm  
Blogger Min said...

I see this "Malaysian Mentality" every where now! That's the scary part. People who seem to be clueless are the decision makers. The Menteri Besar of Selangor declared Selangor a "developed state". Based on what? Doesn't take a genius to realise we're far from being developed. I feel we're slipping instead.

1:51 am  

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