Even in the United States, some of the PSAs (public service announcements) seem quite obvious to most viewers or listeners. Messages against drunk driving, texting-while driving, abuse, corruption, speeding, shoplifting and so much more continue to flood the airwaves, billboards, TV spots and basically just about everywhere else from seatback tray-tables 30,000ft above sea-level to the palm of your hand with annoying mobile advertising. But, I digress, the point of this post is not to discuss lame American PSAs and the effectiveness of its corresponding advertising campaign, but instead, to shed some light on PSAs on the other side of the world – in particularly, Malaysia.
Sure they have child abuse, drunk driving, and much of the same issues faced in the US, and just about every country around the world. But here, the advertising focus seems to be less on the issues mentioned above and more on ridiculous and falling into the category of “common courtesy” type things. One would hope that advertising dollars need not be spent educating people on such mundane, yet annoyingly problematic issues that plague Kuala Lumpur on a daily basis. However, that is simply not the case.
And again, not saying that in the US we don’t have downright stupid ads, signs and PSAs. I mean c’mon, we come from the land where road signs read, “don’t cross road when flooded.” Or how about warning labels not to operate curling irons when sleeping, or not to stick your hand under a lawnmower while the motor is running. It’s just that here, some of the messages are a different kind of ridiculous. That’s all.
So, settle in for some comedic relief, as some of the more absurd PSAs I’ve seen and heard throughout my stay in KL. And, if you don’t believe me, check out this article in the local news, The Star, reporting how Kuala Lumpur was ranked the 2nd most rude (developed) city in the world! Seriously!
- Sit Don’t Squat. (On top of the toilet that is). Squat toilets are very popular on the Eastern side of the world, where you squat on your haunches over a hole in the ground to do your business. Actually, numerous studies have shown that this method of bowel evacuation is actually better on your body (not to mention giving you a decent leg workout simultaneously). However, with the influx of tourists, changing mindsets and other factors, western toilets are now pretty much located in every major shopping mall, restaurant and other major attractions. Sadly, people still employ the ‘squat’ mentality, and instead of sitting on the toilet bowel, prefer to climb up on the seat and squat, creating for quite a wet, dirty mess if you are so unfortunate to use the bathroom after someone with disgusting shoes climbs up on the toilet before you.
- Don’t Double Park. (But if you have to, leave a note). Haha. Really? Oh, so leaving a note makes it so much better to block someone in two or three cars deep. I hear this PSA on several radio stations across KL on a daily basis. The DJ urges listeners to be kind and considerate to fellow Malaysians and don’t double park, but then concedes his stance a bit when he says, “Ok, in Malaysia sometimes you HAVE to double park, so in those cases, leave a note.” This double parking issue is not only annoying to the poor cars that get locked in, but also detrimental to the flow of traffic getting blocked by inconsiderate drivers taking up valuable lanes for parking!
- No trespassing. (Or you will be shot). This takes the “Do Not Enter” sign a little further when you have an assault rifle in your face should you take a few steps over the line!
- Wait Your Turn. (No pushing or shoving). The same DJ that does the PSA on double parking decides to extend his influence indoors by reminding Malaysians to please let people OFF elevators before you try and push your way in. The same can be extended to trains, buses, metros, and actually pretty much any place with a door. Isn’t it common courtesy to let people out first? Guess not.
- Watch Your Valuables (Else vandals will literally rip it from your body). “Snatch Thieves,” as they are called are a real menace in Kuala Lumpur. And the problem is escalating. Most major cities have issues with pickpockets, but KL takes it a step further and actually has derelicts that will ride by on motorbikes and literally snatch a necklace, or your purse (and drag you along for the ride if your strap is sturdy and doesn’t break immediately). So, watch yourself.
- Drive Cautiously (Older folks crossing). This sign cracks me up. Drivers here seem to actually speed up when they see people crossing the road. Cross-walks don’t really mean much, I’ve seen so many drivers ignore red lights and cross-walks, and continue to speed by. At least the Malaysians are trying to protect the older generation that can’t run for their lives as a speeding car barrels towards them.
- No Kissing! (or any indecent behavior). The indecent behavior I can understand, but kissing, really? We are in a conservative nation, so rules must be followed to respect the culture. I can understand that – but the signs are everywhere, it’s kind of amusing. My guess is that a lot of the younger generation and tourists aren’t so good at following this rule. Anyway, if perhaps Malaysians spent as much time cleaning the bathrooms and more of the above-type PSAs as they do putting up the no kissing signs, and editing out any sort of small pecks in TV or movies, they might just improve their worldwide ‘rudeness’ ranking.
- No Durian. (Beyond this Point). Love this. Anyone who’s ever smelled this fruit knows that it STINKS. Most tourists are not used to this foul smell, and Malaysians consume this fruit like a kid eating candy on Halloween. So you can imagine the plight of hotel chains trying to maintain a clean, pristine image in the minds (and noses) of their more “established” guests from around the world who have not yet had the pleasure of smelling this fruit, when the smell of sewage from the stink of durian is wafting thick in the air! Please folks – leave it at home, pew!
- McDonalds Drive-Thru (VIP). It seems like folks from around the world are always making fun of Americans for such fast food chains, yet, such places are ALWAYS crowded (with their multiple levels), at all hours of the day (and NOT with tourists). The Malaysians do love their McDs! So much so, that they have VIP customers with perks of faster drive-thru services. I’m not sure what the criteria is for qualifying for such VIP-treatment at McDonalds, but apparently it’s quite a popular service here, as I’ve seen so many cars proudly displaying this badge of honor on their cars.
I’m sure there are far more funny/interesting PSAs that I am forgetting, or just have not had the pleasure of coming across just yet. Perhaps I’ll have to do a second edition to this post in a few months! Until then, hope you got a good laugh.