Taranjiv Singh is a law graduate who once served in Malaysia’s biggest broadcasting company.
While exploring his farming venture, the 40-year-old started driving for an e-hailing company in August last year.
Taranjiv shares his tales with Twentytwo13. This week, he shares his conversations about dressing up and being presentable when dealing with government agencies.
“The way we dress is certainly the conversation of the week between my passengers and I.
We have been reading and hearing about people being stopped from lodging police reports, entering public hospitals, and even government departments, for not wearing the proper attire.
The definition of appropriate attire seems to be ambiguous, as some people, even in their office outfits, have been turned away from government premises after being told that their skirt is just above the knee, or that the slit is too high. Unfortunately, it is the women who are often targeted, sometimes by overzealous, or simply confused security personnel.
But my passengers also said that Malaysians seem to take it too easy when it comes to dressing up. Haven’t we seen people visiting government departments in shorts and slippers – just to drop off an application form? And there seems to be a double standard – men are allowed to show their legs, but not women.
In fact, the problem is not confined to just government departments. Most Malaysians tend to take a similar laidback approach to dressing up for functions and wedding receptions. Some say it’s due to the hot weather. Yet, most offices and event spaces in Malaysia have the air-conditioning on, full blast.
I’ve had friends who told me that Malaysians dress down while in Malaysia, but pull out all the stops when they are abroad, even if it’s just for a casual dinner. Some passengers also admitted to doing the same when they are abroad. When asked why, they said: “It’s Malaysia mah, cincai lah.”
A passenger from Japan told me that people in his home nation dress appropriately when they visit government departments. No jeans, shorts, or slippers, but closed shoes, pants, and a collared shirt. He said it was about respect – respecting the department, and the nature of the visit.
We should drop this ‘cincai’, and our ‘tidak apa attitude’, and start dressing up. Of course, I don’t expect to see Malaysians in tuxedos or evening gowns while buying carrot cake at the pasar malam. But there needs to be some respect – self-respect.
Other passengers agreed that there should be exceptions – during emergencies, such as when lodging a police report or visiting the hospital. It is not the role of the men in blue and those in white coats to become the moral police.
I too, agree with the exceptions when it comes to entering a police station or hospital.
Otherwise, we would need to carry a spare change of clothes in the car. I would suggest a sarong, as they don’t crumple easily, and don’t need much space.”