There are only 3 most basic etiquette signs on all trains in Malaysia. “Priority Seating”, “No Food and Smoking” and the somehow obscure arrow/lines on the stations’ floor (to keep the doorways clear) that plenty of white-collar locals seem to be pretty aloof about it.
For someone who have travelled on the train lines around Asia, it is inevitable to compare the difference of passengers’ behaviour in each country. Malaysian train etiquette is so lacking that there are advertisements in trains that teach passengers how to be respectful of others.
Yet, Malaysians prove to be uneducated public train users. The local public tend to get away with their unpleasantness because of our reserved and non-confrontational culture.
If you are in anywhere else, be ready to get called out for the rudeness by other train users. Real stories. A traveller in Hong Kong was nagged and scolded by a local for several stations long until she got off because she put her bags on the empty seat next to her. A woman was shouted at in Japan for crossing her legs in the train (as it takes up more public space).
A word to the wise, be patient and choose your words carefully when advising other absent-minded passengers. Also, to prevent being publically humiliated on trains, be more mindful of your actions in a crowded public space with these common etiquettes.
No Pole Hogging
We get it that you need an extra grip to keep your balance but please refrain from using your entire body to lean on the pole. There will be many people depending on it so unless you want to be touched by strangers, do stand upright.
Keep Your Legs to Yourself
Man-spreading is like a bad virus on trains while leg-crossing is an unwanted aisle display. It takes up space and is equally annoying to the people standing right in front of you.
Bags are not Babies
Plenty of Malaysians already wear their backpack on the front when in trains to prevent being pickpocketed. We can go a step further by removing it from our shoulders completely and put it in between our legs when its super crowded.
Probably unaware, most of these bags are often shoved onto other people’s faces and takes up room in a crowded train. Not forgetting, seats are for people and not the bags.
Frankly, no one wants to keep up with your drama on a crowded train. Keep the conversational voices down and put on a pair of earphones when using the smartphone.
Crowding the Doorway
There are no trophies or prizes for people who enter the train first so queue and wait for other commuters to alight first before you enter. This way, it is more efficient and easier to get on the train than you thought.
Text by Jessy Wong