To cross a road

Ever experienced having  to run across a busy road, even when you are crossing at a zebra crossing?

Ever experiencing darting in and out trying all sorts of stunts just to cross such roads?

In the West, cars will invariably stop when a pedestrian steps on the designated crossing area.

Even though now more and more cities are using the push-button pedestrian lights in order to allow a more orderly flow of traffics — instead of every few seconds, a car has to stop for a pedestrian, these lights now permit crossing on a need-to-be basis —  smaller towns and less congested areas in big cities are still using the zebra crossings and the people there would still stop to allow pedestrians to cross.

To stop at zebra crossings to allow people to cross first has become a routine as well as a habit to the Westerners, and even those Easteners who emigrated there.

In our part of the world, no such habits exist.

We have to depend on individual goodwill to allow us to cross. There are of course many kind souls who would  time and again  allow people to cross, but on the other hand, at times, you even see people revving up their speed when they see someone walking near the crossings, never mind that to stop and extend the courtesy would cost them less than half a minute of time.

Even in areas where there are  push button systems installed , for example in front of my clinic for pedestrians to cross over to the Pudu LRT stations, drivers sometimes would ignore the red lights and dash through.

Often after dashing through, they find themselves stuck behind jams. Why the hurry to forego a civil act and rush to get caught in a jam, I can never understand such mentality.

Someone told me that this is the “kiasu” mentality. But to see in front of you columns of cars stopping because of traffic jam and still not be civil enough to stop for pedestrians, it is more than kiasu,  in my humble opinion.

Some said it is the ego thing. Maybe, since Malaysians are known to have so huge ego that they would even be willing to spend millions to get a passenger up in space. But I would rather  leave it to the psychologists to say their peice on whether this is the ego thing.

To me, it has a bit of everything, especially the ways children are brought up. The ways children see their parents behaving.

In schools, they are told to stop in zebra crossings to allow pedestrians to cross. But when they attain the age to drive, it is not what the schools have taught them, but the images of how their parents or teachers behaving   imprinted in their minds when they were younger that influence them on their subconscious decision not to stop.

I have seen with my eyes old ladies, some in their 60s, running and tripping while trying to cross the crossing near my clinic. To see an old lady who is weak and frail, sometimes carrying a basket of grocery,  to try to run across the road is anything but heart-aching.

For those who happen to read this article, perhaps it can serve as  food for thought about our own behaviour.

Maybe we can start with a change of our own behaviour, for those of us who are not already practising this civility. Social behaviour is influenced  by peer culture and herd instinct, but each doing our own bit, perhaps we can slowly effect a change and make a difference.

City living is stressful, no doubt about it. But to be under stress does not mean that we cannot set a good example for our children to follow.

One day, we are going to grow old; one day, we would need the kind and considerate soul to stop to allow us to cross the road safely and slowly.

Let us hope that that soul maybe your son or grandchild, and let us hope that in future, while the whole nation ages, we would not have to do acrobatic stunts to do the simple things like crossing a road.


(PS. MAny would blame the government and the police. I am not going to discuss that since this is now social bloggings, but i believe all of us have a part to play since social behaviour hinges on peer and herd instinct)


30 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. disgusted
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 12:09:33

    Dr, well, millions have been spent on courtesy campaign in the past and like “chicken shit”, it was warm for a awhile but icy cold afterward (no more creating public awareness). Now the officialdom is advertising people to “smile”.

    The only people really smiling is the advertisement agency who got the contract.

    Anyway, ugly Malaysian motorists are on the increase, double parking, and “legitimized parking” near schools, worship places blocking half the road. Never mind if it is even the roundabout.

    Using cell phones while driving and commercial vehicles weaving traffic like roller skates, cut in your path like a knife slicing a cake.

    I foresee a rise in road rage this year. And violent assaults on the road. Hope I am wrong. Still the press can downplay this.

    Crossing the road is a drop in the ocean of problems.


  2. klm
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 14:25:54

    I used to be a gentle driver. But now, i can easily get into a rage at fools on the road. What surprises is that I no longer have any qualm on taking the steering lock to whack some idiots irregardless whether they are man or woman.

    I am sure there are many out there who are starting to behave this way. Crossing the road is just the symptom of things wrong in our society. Bubbling in our subconscious is the seed of destruction. As a society, we are heading towards


  3. Dr Hsu
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:13:53

    Perhaps all of us just start by ourselves to show more courtesy..
    If out of the thousands who may read this article ( the former post : it must be lonely to be old have been read by thousands, in my blog as wel las MI, as well as emails circulating now; I even received emails containing that article sent through a few hands and to me again), say one hundred of them change their ways and influence maybe 200 of their children, and we persist in our behaviour, maybe we can start small and get the ball rolling.

    I am sure you are a much better person than what you have described; the very gist of your this comment means that you care, and when you care, you will do your little bit to influence.

    I am very sure that next time when I cross the zebra and you are the driver, (you and I do not know each other even though we communicate like old friends– that is the internet), you will never knock me down. That one I will bet. ANd it will be a safe bet. It will be safer than taking an airplane and playing russian roullette.


  4. A Single Vote
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 15:48:59

    Please DO NOT STOP at zebra crossings. We may be putting the poor pedestrians at risk!!

    I used to stop for pedestrians till I found that it was actually worse for them especially on dual lane roads. We stop and the pedestrian thinks it is safe to cross and then gets knocked down by another car which is not stopping, or a biker who is going to weave in and out between cars.

    I was responsible for 2 such “accidents” and more missed ones before I decided not to stop anymore. We only slow down to cautiously make sure the pedestrians are not going to cross. It is definitely safer, that they only cross when there are no more traffic. Zebra crossing or not.

    It has to be this way, that we accept the “way of life” of our society but no, we will not compromise on other issues.

    We were caught in a bad jam at the second link coming back from Singapore. I stepped on it to make up for lost time. We were flagged down and the very polite cop took my driving license and started trying to make small talk. I knew where he was heading and replied with monosyllables wanting to get him to quickly write out the summons so we can be on our way. When he saw that he was not getting anywhwere, he walked over to a superior, conferred and came back with my license and a “never mind lah”. No summons!!

    Try it next time, the gods may be smiling on you too.

    Don’t you just get mad when you visit Singapore? Don’t you wonder why they just cannot walk across and learn and not spend our hard earned money on “belajar” trips around the world?

    Drove around for 4 days there and did not come across one pothole!! Drive along Jalan Ampang(embassies everywhere), go to KLCC and around KL city, and you ask where we keep our pride and dignity.

    For heaven’s sakes, we have guests everywhere. If we cannot maintain simple roads for our own taxpaying citizens at least do up the roads around these tourist areas so our visitors have a better image of our country!! Is there not a little pride left in us?

    Watched a documentary on road building(in UK?) where at the end of the documentary the builder proudly proclaim that the road will still be in that condition for the next 40 years, long after “I’d have passed away”. That is pride in his work!!

    That is just my 2cents on ‘roads’.

    Guess they must be spending our millions on more deserving projects.


  5. clearwater
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 16:23:19

    I admire your positive attitude, Dr Hsu, but it will take much more than a private citizen’s initiative to change road discourtesy. Especially when those in authority do not set good examples in civility and fair play. Bad habits are easy to acquire, difficult to discard. Malaysians’ bad road manners are ingrained and reinforced in daily episodes of atrocious behavior seen on and off road. Most get away with flouting the rules and will not accept any form of gentle reprimand from fellow road users. That could provoke road rage.

    Here, I look East to the Japanese for their civic mindedness and social cohesion. Not only in road courtesy but also in cleanliness and orderliness. No discarded cigarette butts or plastic or paper out the window. The extreme look of disapproval from other road users will likely shorten your life. It is always such a pleasure to visit a Japanese city. And a shock to come back to KL traffic and litter. What a contrast.


  6. klm
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 16:45:15

    Zebra crossing? Do we have Zebra crossing anymore? I have not seen this for a long time – at least in my area.


  7. Dr Hsu
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 16:50:23

    instead of white and black zebra crossing, now it is yellow and black mainly. Some private companies, like the Malayan Tobacco company/Rothman (what is the name now), near the rothman roundabout has built a provate one with raised bump and yellow and black stripes on it. It is quite effective, since most cars have to slow down to cross the bumps, but i thought a better way was to install a push button traffic lights


  8. klm
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 17:05:00

    Oh. I thought that was no stopping. 🙂


  9. wassup
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 17:18:32

    I donno about KL but in Penang, seldom can you find a nicely painted Zebra Crossing. The only one I can recall now is in front of Convent Dato Keramat. It’s a dangerous one too ‘cos it’s just a hundred meter from a four way traffic light and it’s dangerous for motorist to stop when everyone have just started moving from still.

    Maybe less corruption and more pedestrian bridge. But then people don’t like to climb a few steps to safety ‘cos they’d prefer running across a four lane road during peak hours.

    Again corruption is the culprit.


  10. Rotten Fishhead
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 17:51:25

    Dr. Hsu although you are not going to dicuss the police and the government I have to because all these woes I blame it on the police and the government for not enforcing the rules. They just sleep away their time and only wakes up to collect their pay. Sometimes I wonder why no enforcement. Is it because if they are strict no rules will be broken thus cannot get easy pocket money. If they don’t enforce the rules then everybody will continue breaking the law then when they want some pocket money they just hide behind some trees to catch their victim and get some pocket money. Dr. Hsu don’t you think this is a valid reason. Over to you.


  11. stevent
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 17:59:30

    Hey Dr. Hsu, i recommend you to read this comment posted in by Candy Tay entitled “If you hate Malaysia so much, go back!”. Her views truly reflects the dilemma facing this generation of youths who have the opportunity to remain overseas or come back and whom still care for this beautiful nation.

    The problem with our roads are the designs and the construction of those designs. The designers are totally unqualified (even if they are engineers). The reasons are you know what and why. A few months ago, my dad was crossing a street and a motorcycle hit him. Thankfully my dad only suffers minor scratches on his wrist (incredible hulk). Ironically, the cars had stopped for my dad to cross but not the motorcycles. There was even a police nearby. Well, he came over and told my dad that roads were meant for cars and not pedestrians.

    This is the severity of the problems that engulfed this nation.


  12. Dr Hsu
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 18:16:22


    Thank you.

    Perhaps you also care to read my past writings:

    1. Racial politics and Brain drain, whcih was published in MI, Malasyiakini, picked up in MToday, and recently Mr Sim Kwang yang, former DAP MP, posted in his blog after receiving it via emails from his friends.

    2. Chinese/Indian Malaysian parents’ dilemma. ted in 2007 as a opinion column in malaysiakini.


  13. stevent
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 19:12:43

    Hey Dr. Hsu,

    I have already read those 2 posts. Thanks.

    This is another article written by an investor about the inequality in the US and his 2010 predictions. I believe that our nation faces the same problems as well if it’s even a problem to our government.

    Since i’m already a little off topic, i would like to hear your views on my current career path. I’ve been involve in US politics since 2006 – working in local elections (California) to slowly upgrading to bigger and badder campaigns up till my latest being a staff member of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign. I’ve always wanted to run for office in Malaysia as well but till now i couldn’t decide whether to join the opposition or the government and to get involve in which component party. In my opinion, both parties face similar problems – cronyism and corruption – with the exception that one is currently having a bigger pie than the other (I’m being very pragmatic here).
    This is my prediction for the next GE.
    1) Tok Nik Aziz won’t be here supporting BR and PAS is in chaos.
    2) BR wins but UMNO will be able to form the next government with PAS

    How then can i bring change to this nation? (Feel free to remove this comment if it’s too irrelevant to your post)


  14. disgusted
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 19:38:08

    Well, this week or next, thousands of zebras will be running in crowds demonstrating, God knows what except the issue don’t relate to bread and butter issues.

    Always, as usual this demo suddenly won’t affect business and will not create instability and definitely not a threat except the zebras.

    I wonder why on earth zebras always demo for (s***) I self-censored the word, sorry. S*** issues and leaving bigger issue unresolved or untouched.

    Anyway, zebra or no zebra, this nation if by any measurement has the most “intelligent” leadership only fit to rule the ants. Or the ants should rule this leadership…..I am going bongkus or what you call it “amok”.


  15. Dr Hsu
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 19:56:44

    stevent , just had a cursory glance at the article. Very well written.

    SInce I am occupied tonight, i wil attempt to answer you tomorrow.


  16. Meng
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 22:38:48

    In the malaysian context Zebra are Zebras..human are human…we should change “”Zebra Crossing to Human Crossing””
    Ha ha ha..just clowing


  17. Kenny
    Jan 06, 2010 @ 22:39:06

    Dear stevent,

    You said both parties (BN and PR) face cronyism and corruption but one is having a bigger pie than the other.

    For your info, cronyism and corruption are at present almost non-existent in PR. MACC goes after PR politicians at the faintest whiff of corruption so they hardly dare to be corrupt.

    Regarding your prediction:
    1) Nik Aziz is a firm supporter of PR and PAS is not in chaos but undergoing changes

    2) It is highly improbable for PAS to betray the electorate by forming a pact with Umno after the election. To attempt to do so will break the party apart.

    I’ve no idea where you form your impressions from but they are not accurate. I hope Dr. Hsu can give your the benefit of his vast knowledge.

    If you want to bring change to the nation, please join PR. At least there is a change of change but under BN there is zero chance.


  18. A voter
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 00:12:46

    I got message below. Confused. Can you read?

    niarb on sah elpoep emos
    kniht tonnac yeht
    tsaf yrev yrgna teg yeht
    koma nur nac yeht, yrgna ecno
    dliw gninnur god dam ekil
    revelc yrev era yeht kniht yeht
    diputs era yeht, tcaf lautca ni, tub

    Frighten of crazy traffic till cannot write properly? 🙂


  19. Dr Hsu
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 10:01:39

    Sorry for the late reply.
    Your comment can be broken down to a few topics.

    Firstly, the gap between the rich and poor which is widening not only in the states but all over the world. I will dedicate a post to this topic some time later.

    Secondly, I presume you are working in the States and the question is whether you should remain in the states or comeback? since you are talking about your carrer path. I will write a post on this wither today or tomoowrrow.

    thirdly the political affiliation. This topic, as you shold have known by now, I have mentioned just a week ago that I will not touch on politics in this blog since i do not want to waste time to defend against unfair and unjust attacks from fanatics and cyber troopers. .(maybe later when a big topic crop up which I have not touched before.) But you should infer from all my writings since 2006 what changes I advocate .


  20. clearwater
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 12:33:17


    Listen well to Kenny. He has a good grasp of the political situation in Malaysia and why and what needs changing. He, like me, is for reform from outside the existing BN-Umno system as we believe change from within is not possible under the current regime. As for the good Dr, he, too, is for change but working from within the existing BN system as he remains steadfastly loyal to the ideals of his party PGRM(Gerakan). Similar agenda in that we want a better Malaysia, just differ in the choice of the suitable vehicle to achieve it.


  21. klm
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 13:25:23

    Dear stevent,

    Let me jump in here and say a few things.

    1. It is a good thing that you want to run for office in Malaysia. And I hope it is for good reason.

    2. You have been watching American politics in close quarters. But the problem with American politics is that it had moved from machine based politics to individual politics (albeit following his or her party’s philosophy). It is a star based system.

    3. In Malaysia, politics is all about the party or party leader(s) – in the Case of PKR or DAP. If you are a star, watch your back and front. You may not survive. There too many half past sixes trying to take you down. Unfortunately, Malaysia is still in the stone age where politics are concerned.

    4. In the event you join the ruling parties, it is whose camp you support. It is challenge to be selected to run public office unless you are linked to the top leaders and come from a political dynasty.

    5. Politics in Malaysia is a difficult ball game.

    6. It would be better sometime in the future you can run for office in the US. With the backing of power behind you, you could something here. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of 7th largest economy in the world were to say something about Malaysia. It will mean something.

    cheers and have a good life.


  22. Dr Hsu
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 13:57:18

    i think for the part of which party to join and whether in Malaysia or US, klm has answered very well with good points.

    But if you are in for ideals and conscience, you can fight against the mainstream in the party but if you are gunning to be selected for office, you have to go along the to speak. When you are already somebody, then perhaps you can then change and revert back to your ideals.. That is what KJ was , according to some who told met; He was apparently a very liberal person, but had to play racist to gain support and ‘kangdao’.

    If you are not gunning for position and just want your voice to be heard, then be like yours truly, never side anyone but speak out on issues. That way you answer your conscience, but you get hammered from both left and right and centre, and outside of party too.


  23. klm
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 14:27:52

    Dr Hsu. I can sense you are still sore about -‘hammered from both left and right and centre, and outside of party too.” 🙂


  24. A true Malaysian
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 14:45:35

    So pitiful ya, being hit from all sides and angles. But, those hit you from inside, want you out for good, those hit you from outside, want you continue to fight for good, not necessary on PR platform, but outside of BN.

    My advice to stevent is, if he wants to join politics in Malaysia, don’t join BN. Umno is “numb” for good intended views, while the rest in BN are just tools for Umno to manipulate, so long they got their ‘crumbs’. Many of them cannot win in election, but they just couldn’t care less, as Umno have the power to list them through ‘back-door’. You can see for yourself in MCA fights, and the eunuch party, Gelakan.

    For a start, maybe you can join Invest-in-Penang Berhad, the link is here

    Your involvement with Hilary Clinton is a plus point. The future of our beloved country lies in the hands of youngsters like you and Candy Tay. Your experience in US can help in next election campaign.

    I wish you all the best, stevent. Malaysia needs you more than you need Malaysia.


  25. CYC
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 14:52:46

    Stevent’s predictions may has some merit though Kenny disagree based on his reading on domestic politics. No one really know which faction will emerge as the controlling force in PAS, the hardliner or the liberals. And UMNO is capitalising on this conflicts to strengthen their position. Of course, you will not see PAS elected leaders jump ship at this moment as they do not need to since they always have an option to exercise their choice after the next GE. By doing so, they will be in win-win position. Meaning they are riding on the positive mood towards PR now and choose their partner to form the govt after the next GE.

    It is good to know some young people still interested in serving the country through politics in a genuine way. But I must say that u could only serve well by securing position. Otherwise, it will be a futile attempt if u wish to see tangible changes. By securing position does not equate yourself to be greedy or corrupt but garner more power to effect changes.


  26. Dr Hsu
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 15:19:00

    At least i have the comfort to know that you won’t knock me over if I cross the street in front of your car..:)

    In Malaysia, the line is very clear. You must tag on to the coat tail of someone to move up, in BN as well as opposition. ANd the urge for dynasty forming is strong in both sides as well.


  27. cilipadi
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 15:30:52

    As a non-Malaysian, I deal quite a lot with Malay Muslims. I can understand them well.

    To deal with Umno Malay Muslim, you need hard cash. Even with cash, they can still play you OUT.

    To deal with PAS Malay Muslim, you need to gain their trusts, not hard cash. Once you have their trusts, you gain their respects, things can run smoothly from there. (My Malay friend is like that, he respects and trusts me).

    To answer stevents, Umno and PAS won’t come together, now or future. As I said, PAS deal with trusts, not hard cash.

    I can tell you, your predictions are not accurate.

    Umno need PAS, but PAS don’t need Umno. PAS have their conscience to answer if they team up with Umno.

    Umno is hard pressed. They plant moles in PAS, to break-up PAS.

    PAS makan cili, Umno rasa pedas
    Stevent makan cili? Rasa pedas?


  28. cilipadi
    Jan 07, 2010 @ 15:54:54

    Umno is fanning fire, hopefully to BBQ PR

    Umno ended up as charcoal SATAY.

    Umno makan cili, SATAY rasa pedas


  29. 1MY
    Jan 08, 2010 @ 10:24:19

    Just wonder how these drivers get their driving licences (you know lah) – no wonder Australia required Malaysians to resit their theory and driving test to be issued a local licence.

    Just not a habit for most drivers to stop at pedestrian crossings in Malaysia. Well, we don’t get summons or sued for injuries because we are good at kao-ting and runding (you know to who). So only cautious drivers are the victims.

    What to do, this is Malaysia’s driving culture – illegal parking, texting/calling while driving, crossing double lines, speeding, etc. because the system is so lenient.

    The Malaysian society is such a mess as reflected in the behaviour of our drivers.

    Pray that (to who) this attitude will change – another century with our existing education system – …. knows.


  30. sammy
    Jan 08, 2010 @ 13:31:30

    Dr, If you stop, somebody will honk at you…if not rear end you…then how? Claim from the pedestrian? Insurance claims adjuster also tell us not to stop or next time will not let us claim from offender…how? Even when making a report, the traffic I/O will ask “apasal henti?” Don’t believe, go make one when you get rear ended stpping for an old lady or pregnant woman to cross which I do. (but not for Indons or idiots who press the button when they see you speeding from a distance. )

    Come to Puchong or SS2, where most of the inhabitants are either from Johor or the backwater states in which getting a driving license costs RM500 or more, true experience.

    Not biased but have experienced out of towners who go against traffic, triple park, givng rude gestures even if you horn at them for committing an offence or just speeding in a residential area where children roam.

    Enforcement is to blame but if the enforcers need to cari makan, at least wait at traffic lights or no-entry/one way roads to catch these offenders. Can get more in a day than chasing after motobikes at highways or setting up road block in the hot sun!


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