One of the very deplorable habits among some of us is the somewhat infamous Malaysian time. Often has it been said that punctuality is a virtue, yet it seems that many of us, Malaysians, consider it the norm to be “fashionably late”.
Well, there MAY be people who claim that it is part and parcel of our culture, our tradition, and insist that it must be preserved. But, let’s be frank about the whole issue. Don’t you hate going for dinners that are supposed to start at 7 p.m. and by 7.30, the guests are still trickling in one by one? It isn’t so bad for some who appear to enjoy using the time fruitfully to catch up with the latest gossips.
But there you sit, miserable and bored to death, your stomach rumbling away like thunder (despite having cleaned up the plate of complimentary peanuts) and you’re positive that you’re dying of hunger. And finally, when at long last, the dinner begins, the food is already cold and hardly palatable, and your mood is absolutely ruined, so much so that you really don’t have the appetite to eat anything anymore.
Now, how did it all start, we may wonder? “Don’t go early,” they tell you, “or they’ll think that you’re SO greedy, and you’ve never eaten in your life before!” Believe it or not, it is actually considered polite to make your grand entrance no less than half an hour after the time stated on the invitation card. Well, if you ask me, tradition is one thing but some things HAVE to change if change is for the better.
For one thing, I personally feel that it is EXTREMELY rude and inconsiderate to be late for an appointment or a date. Take, for instance, the case where a friend of yours has promised that he will be at our house by 9. Surely you will not make other arrangements or do something else while waiting. Hence, when that nincompoop turns up at say…10 or 10.30, you would have wasted 1 hour or more, just sitting there – waiting, doing nothing. Worse still, more often than not, these selfish individuals do NOT even bother to call to let you know that they will not be on time. The worst thing is they may just sashay in nonchalantly as if they have NOT done anything wrong. DON’T, for heaven’s sake, expect them to apologise and say, “Excuse me, please. I’m sorry I’m late!” Such words, I’m afraid, SIMPLY do NOT exist in their vocabulary. Somehow they just do NOT realize the seriousness of the whole thing. After all, everybody else does it, or so it seems.
Why, over the years in school, students are subjected to a thousand and one school rules and being punctual is ONE of them. They MUST be in school by a certain time and the whole day in school, their lives are regulated by the ringing of the bell. Don’t they ALL know the consequences if they were to arrive at school AFTER the bell? Don’t they ALL know that they would have to face the music if ever they were to come to school late?
Day in, day out, the teachers (though some of them may need a crash course themselves) would drum into them how important punctuality is, and YET, the moment they step out of the school gate, it most certainly seems that all those homilies have fallen on deaf ears. Education is not merely about passing examinations and getting a string of distinctions. It is also about learning good manners. As the age-old English proverb goes, “manners maketh the man”. It is of no use whatsoever if an individual has a stack of degrees and certificates, and yet he or she hasn’t the slightest idea of the simple social grace of being punctual.
In a nutshell, we should ALWAYS be punctual. We should ALWAYS be on time. PUNCTUALITY is a virtue and there is NOTHING fashionable about being “fashionably late”.