Malaysia, Decades Behind Hong Kong

By Simon Templar

Hong Kong used to be known as a country of rude people. If you had gone shopping there years ago, browsing and flipping through items have better led to a purchase. Or else you are gonna kena from the auntie manning the store. Waiters and waitresses were infamous for throwing dishes around the table. And talking very loudly too as well. But Hong Kong today has left behind their arrogance and poor manners. The people of Hong Kong have changed to survive.

I was away to Hong Kong recently. This was not my 1st trip there but this little island of nothing never fail to amaze me. Hong Kong is actually pretty much like Singapore, but Malaysians have this 'thing' against Singapore. So anything said in comparison to Singapore will not be taken seriously.

Many attributed this character change to the 1997 crisis. Hong Kong was hit really badly then. They are a global financial hub and a financial crisis will undoubtedly hit them hard. Property prices came tumbling down. Tourism also took a hard hit. Businesses everywhere were failing and it woke the Hong Kong people up. A very drastic attitude change was required to revive the little island of dim sums. I don't know how the government pulled it off but in a very short time span, Hong Kong took a very sharp turn in the attitude of their people.

Today, walk into any retail outlet and you will be greeted with a big welcome – foon ying kong lam, chui pin thai ha la… That translates to 'Welcome. Please browse around.'. And all said with some spirit and a smile. All their sales people are trained to do that – regardless of if it is a designer boutique or plain street wear store. You may even get greeted a few times in a single store. And the service is excellent. The sales personnel go all out to make sure that you get your size. And they are more than happy to remind you that so and so items are on discount. And if you purchase so and so number of items, you get additional discounts. And when you walk out, you get thanked in abundance. And it doesn't matter if you had bought anything at all. As a consumer from Malaysia, this is indeed a very pleasant experience.

Here in KL, we get uptight sales personnel at designer boutiques who think that they are some god sent angel simply because they have on them an Armani uniform. Or when you walk into a more humanly affordable store, you get poor service, or sometimes no service, because you are a cheapo who should scramble through a pile of clothes to find that medium size t-shirt. Apparently we consumers in Malaysia owe these stores a living.

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