August 14th, 2015

Even the best education cannot buy good manners

THERE are three magic words — sorry, thank you and please — that make communication pleasant. Interacting with these magic words is inevitable despite different styles of communication.

But, when was the last time we said any of these words? Do we say the words sincerely when the situation arises? Nowadays, people hardly say these magic words in daily communication.

It seems that good manners have disintegrated from our society. Politeness, courtesy and etiquette have slowly eroded among us. I believe that one of the reasons for the communication breakdown in society is due to technology.

Despite its advantages, we have misused technology, which indirectly ruins our lives. People are no longer communicating as they used to.

Smartphones, tablets and other gadgets have replaced so-called “humanistic communication”. Research shows that people check their handphones 150 times a day.

The increasing number of handphone users also reflects the number of social media users. What is happening in our daily communication?

The simplest is to thank people in online communication. The word “thank you” has been simplified to TQ or TQVM.

Even worse, some emoticons are used to replace these important words. In addition, the feeling of apologising is not being done genuinely. It is only real when expressed verbally.

However, we need to be realistic in expressing these magic words. Otherwise, the humanistic approach is no longer being practised in our community.

If we cannot practise these words among us, then our vision of being united as a nation will not be realised.

There is a big difference in the standard of morals between the present generation and the previous ones. We receive less courtesy, and being selfish and materialistic has hindered us from practising good moral values.

Though communication exists, the response to the needy is in egoistic ways. We tend to be less empathetic, not like before when people were helpful and sympathetic without considering differences.

For instance, by saying thank you, people may perceive you to have a warm personality. In addition, thanking a stranger makes for a good first impression.

Likewise, the word sorry delivers instant relief, and the person who says it has good values. It can be uttered as a magic word between war and peace.

However, the word “please” is hard to say, since we tend to take things for granted, especially in requesting people to do things for us. But, just add this word, and people will have a positive perception towards you.

Remember, good manners will open the door that the best education cannot. Dr Siti Mistima The NST Letters 13 August 2015

Focus on and address issues at hand

NOT only am I appalled by the remarks made by Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, the new education minister, on “the Jews and Christians plotting to split the Malays”, I am amused as to how he could have made such a statement without offering proof as to why this group is creating discord among the Malays.

With news all over the world at one’s disposal on the Internet, I doubt there are Jews and Christians working concertedly to disunite the Malays.

Where did Mahdzir get the news? Who are the Jews and Christians he has identified as having the intention to create this spite among the Malays?

What is so special at this point in time that this group of “Jews and Christians” wants to split the Malays, when issues here have nothing to do with splitting any racial groups but are about the unresolved 1Malaysia Development Bhd, the ringgit at an all-time low, the high cost of living, Goods and Services Tax and unemployed graduates, among others, which have caused tremendous stress and concern from Perlis to Johor and from Sabah to Sarawak?

I am sure there is a bigger agenda for this “peculiar illusive group” to consider rather than to take on a developing country struggling to achieve Vision 2020 under a delicate political scenario.

In short, if ever this group exists, I doubt they want to create disunity among the Malays. There are more pertinent, urgent and important issues in other countries.

At a time when the public is calling on politicians across the political divide not to play any religious or racial cards, it is sad that someone thought it all right to do so when a number of national issues are surfacing and creating concern as to where we are heading in the immediate and short term.

The volatile and fragile political and economic development in the country has somehow enticed people in public office to say things that appear totally unbelievable, unthinkable, unreasonable and unreliable.

What the masses want is for politicians to focus on and address the issues at hand, and to see how best these issues can be resolved without further damaging the nation’s prestige and honour in the international community.

Have we not suffered enough in terms of integrity and transparency regardless of what has been offered in the mass media?

Must we bring in racial and religious sentiments into the political and economic arena at this stage when the political and economic climate is so vulnerable and fragile?

Any learned and well-exposed individual would know such statements are meant to create discord and unease among peace-loving Malaysians, who are more concerned about bread and butter issues, stretching their ringgit to put food on the table, obtaining a modest shelter to shield them from the unpredictable weather, seeing their children through tertiary education and saving some for rainy days, if possible.

Remember, our forefathers, who built this nation from the ashes of the aftermath of the World War 2 and the Japanese Occupation, the Confrontation with Indonesia and the years of Communist insurgency, did not rely on racial or religious sentiments to achieve Merdeka, but through commitment, sweat and tears.

They were united despite their race, religious affiliation and culturally inherited values, which, to this day we have continued to appreciate and embrace through our unique and rich diversities.

We include our friends from all walks of life and of different races into our religious and cultural celebrations.

We celebrate as one. We cannot allow this nation to go into ruin again, for to build from the ashes this time around is not going to be smooth sailing.

Politicians must know that to destroy is easy, but it takes years to build or restore to where we once were.

To use racial and religious cards or connotations to destroy it is an affront to decent thinking and an easy path for aspiring politicians wanting to climb the political ladder. That has to be stopped.

Weren’t we careless to allow this nation to deteriorate with a number of unresolved national issues which the mass media have been busy splashing out to the nation and to the world at large?

From people in the street to the top guns sitting at the pinnacle of the Twin Towers and across the different segments of our society, all are perplexed and confused as to where this nation is heading without having to add another issue of “the Jews and Christians wanting to split the Malays” in our motherland. Without doubt, I believe the masses are surprised over the allegation, which I hope does not reflect that of right-thinking ministers in Putrajaya as far as Jews and Christians are concerned.

I assume there may be citizens in our country who are of Jewish lineage, and we cannot be found accusing or demeaning them in any way.

Likewise, the Christians in our land have been responsible in their conduct and wellbeing, and we have lived and mingled peacefully among people of different faiths.

Repeatedly over the years, the public has voiced concern about this ugly development of politicians stirring religious and racial sentiments among peace-loving Malaysians.

It is time for everyone to speak responsibly, intelligently and kindly, especially the politicians, as they are spearheading the nation’s political and economic progress.

They should not speak carelessly of things that have no basis or value at all, but instead must speak truthfully, which should be the hallmark of any politician. Dr Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor The NST Letters 13 August 2015