Respect the key to peaceful co-existence

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  • Friday, 02 Jun 2017

 WE LIVE in a world of perceptions.

These perceptions are often shaped by what we want to know or who has influenced us.

We all think the world is this and that, but the world is round and it is not perfect.

However, we try our best to make it perfect.

How do we do that? Well, it all starts with respecting someone’s house.

For example, if I want to work with some people and co-exist with them in their community, I am not going to live in their country, town or village and criticise the way their society lives.

Just recently, I witnessed something quite disturbing. A foreign couple did not like how a function was being run at their child’s school, so they started complaining about it to the schoolteachers.

They also lashed out at some of the local parents, making the situation socially awkward.

Most of us, Malaysians, usually let these things slide and complain later. But that day, one parent chose not to tolerate this behaviour and told off the foreign parents for making a scene, especially since there were children nearby.

The foreign couple was shocked that a Malaysian actually bit back!

The husband of this noisy couple then made a report to the school, saying that an “Asian man” was abusive to his wife, when the husband did not even witness the conversation as he had only turned up later.

This was not a wise move as most of the people attending the function had witnessed his wife’s childish behaviour.

And everyone was taken aback by the words “Asian man”.

Looks like some people are still quite prejudiced and ignorant.

We were shocked that he was racist, because his compatriots are not like that. So to criticise his homeland is unfair because his fellow countrymen are generally pleasant.

I will just say that this couple are the rotten apples of that country.

How the husband is allowed to work in our beloved Malaysia is a major question, but like I said, the world is round.

We, Malaysians, are not a perfect lot either, but like people around the world keep telling us, “You Malaysians are a nation of very friendly people.”

Around two weeks ago, I managed to briefly meet Malaysia Airlines group chief executive officer Peter Bellew at an event.

He said publicly that, “Malay-sia is the easiest place in the world to live.” But he thinks we Malaysians need to believe that, and stop being so critical of ourselves.

The Malaysian parent who told off the noisy couple told me recently, “We are a nation that is very welcoming, but certain people sometimes forget to respect the house, the Malaysian house. Is that so hard to do?”

My response was, “Not at all, but courtesy and respect are hard things to come by sometimes, just like logic and common sense.”

May our children always be better than us.

Ben Ibrahim is a manager, emcee, and a TV personality. He can be contacted via or Twitter @benibrahim or Instagram @benibrahim_

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