Travelling to a stranger’s land would give you a little chill when they speak a different language, unknown roads, and the measure on how friendly the locals would be when you are visiting.
In most dictionaries, ‘friendly’ is defined as a pleasant behaviour, a kind way towards someone, not harmful, helpful, and liking each other. Is Malaysia a friendly country? The answer is YES! According to a research by International Living on Annual Global Retirement Index, Malaysia ranked the 6th spot as the best country to retire in; quoting Malaysians as the friendliest in Asia.
Closer to home, it’s notable that Kota Tinggi District Council in Johor had constructed a big mural of a Malay poem about ‘Orang Johor’ by the late national laureate Datuk Dr. Usman Awang which depicts the characteristics of Johorians as being polite, gentle, moderate, and sensible even in making discourteous attributes at times as mentioned below:
“Kurang ajarnya tetap
Lembutnya cukup jantan
Dajalnya masih selamba
Nakal bersulam jenaka
Menikam dengan pantun
Marahnya dalam tertawa
Meninggi bukan melonjak”
As we are living throughout modernity, our values are tested from time to time with several surrounding factors but will it affect our friendliness towards others? The Iskandarian put Johorians’ definition of friendliness to the test by asking several expatriates living within Johor Bahru on helpfulness, language literacy, manners, handicap friendly, and more.
A Philippines national Jane Reynaldo who works as a spa manager in a hotel at Jalan Trus just moved to Johor Bahru from Kuala Lumpur since March this year, and finds that the locals here are friendlier than the people in the capital city as they were more accommodating when she needed help during her first familiarising trips in town.
“I find that the people here are very helpful and they can entertain tourists if they need help. Johor Bahru is also developing rapidly like Kuala Lumpur too, but overall, it’s much more peaceful here. I’m also very impressed by Johorians’ love towards their Sultan,” Jane added when interviewed.
An expatriate from the Land of the Rising Sun, Mihoko Maisara Yui who has been living in Johor Bahru for the past 25 years and is a teacher in The Japanese School of Johor, Bandar Seri Alam finds that language barrier is still an alarming issue even to communicate in English for several youngsters.
“The newer generation has difficulties when conversing in English which I think is a universal language for most foreign tourists. Sometimes, language barrier like this can make tourists feel unwelcome. However, what I love most is that I see Johorians are respectful to their elders which is almost similar to the Japanese culture,” said Mihoko.
When discussing on treatment towards the disabled or handicap group, the disparity is apparent but if we unanimously shift our mind to be thoughtful or compassionate towards each other regardless of race, religion and appearance; this doesn’t prove to be an issue at all.
“For almost four years of living and working with Johorians, I admire the way they treat and respect others especially the less fortunate despite the differences in religion and beliefs. I noticed similarities between Johorians and us where we respect and have a big heart in taking care of the handicapped people,” said a 24-year-old Albert H. Villapando from Philippines who works in Horizon Hills Golf & Country Club.
As we embrace the rapid development and catching up with our surroundings may somehow affect our self-principles of modesty, respect and compassion towards another but showing friendliness to others can definitely make someone’s day. Manners maketh man, yes? Are you friendly towards others?