WHOEVER came up with that tagline for Malaysia Airlines, “Malaysian Hospitality begins with us”, which plays off the company’s international code for its flights — MH — is a genius.
Not only does that promote the friendliness of the Malaysia Airlines cabin and ground crew, it also highlights the overall friendliness of Malaysians.
For we Malaysians are a friendly and courteous lot, it has to be said, and we have been known to be so for ages.
Sadly, it appears that we are becoming more and more a society that is fractious and lacking in common courtesy.
We have had countless campaigns, yet still there are many who seemingly live in worlds of their own, wrapped up in self-centeredness.
Take public transport, for instance. We have heard stories of teens or able-bodied adults not giving up seats to the elderly, the disabled or the pregnant.
Or how a person has his bag or backpack on the adjacent seat, despite the bus or train being full.
That is just a minor example. Courtesy extends beyond that. If we were to be courteous at all times, there would be no road bullies, no traffic rule breakers, no one would spew profanity in anger, there would be no one who is rude, irresponsible or disrespectful.
The first of those examples, perhaps, is the most important. If there were no road bullies, there would be no road rage.
And road rage, as we learnt in August last year, can lead to death. In that incident, what began as merely a fender bender escalated into a high-speed chase, then a physical altercation involving a bat, and finally, the death of a 29-year-old man along the North-South Expressway near Bangi, Selangor.
It is sad that we lack common courtesy to resolve issues. It does not matter whether the two people involved in the fender bender were at odds over who was at fault.
If they had only been courteous to each other and decided to lodge police reports, letting the authorities decide who was at fault, the issue would not have escalated.
We just celebrated our 63rd National Day. In just over a week, we celebrate our 57th Malaysia Day.
What we should do is remember the five Rukun Negara principles that our great nation was built upon.
More importantly, in this context, we should remember the fifth, but by no means the least, of these five pillars of Malaysian society — kesopanan dan kesusilaan.
That translates to good behaviour and morality, but it does not take a genius to figure out that it encompasses courtesy as well.
It is obvious that our courtesy campaigns have failed. What needs to be done is to revisit our efforts in school.
Courtesy and other moral values need to be instilled from young, so that future generations become exemplary Malaysians living in harmony with all races.
We also need to remember that the very first educators a child has are his parents.
This is the most crucial phase of life in a child and, if a parent is not courteous, chances are the child will not be either.
We should be known as a nation that is courteous, respectful, warm and friendly, never rude and surly. Then, truly we can own the term “Malaysian Hospitality”.