Are you ethical enough when using public transportation?

By Maisarah Mijar

In 1990, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, who was the fourth Prime Minister then, has set for Malaysia to achieve a well-developed nation status by 2020. However, in his recent statement (as the seventh and current Prime Minister) he said that he thinks that the Vision 2020 objective would no longer be achievable, and it could only be attained by 2025.

There are a number of obstacles for Malaysia to be an advanced country and obviously we are not ready for it when the newly built Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) was vandalised within the first week of operation. What does this show about our attitude and mentality?

In order to achieve the Vision 2020 objective, there are nine challenges that Dr. Mahathir has highlighted, and one of the challenges is to have a well-rounded society that is ethical and tolerable.

Let us narrow down the scope to public transportation.

Our public transportation has greatly developed, from depending on the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) or Malayan Railway, we now have multiple train lines including the recently built MRT. However, many of us overlooked the importance of etiquette in using public transportation.

Although I rarely used public transportation before I joined the university, when I do, I would abide by the do’s and the don’ts. I believe that actions of the people especially in public, reflect who they are as individuals. Hence, when people are intolerable when using public transportation, it means they are unethical as individuals.

I have observed various kinds of people when using public transportation and it is disappointing to see that even though our country has advanced well in technology, the attitude and mindset of most people still remain the same. They have not advanced to match the modern facility that we have progressed. It is time for us to become high-minded Malaysians particularly during the present new government when we have voted for change in the recent general election.

The least that the citizens could do in order to change the behaviour of the public is to be more ethical in using public transportation as a sign of being grateful. I share here some guidance on how to be more ethical when using public transportation.


When queueing up for the train, be sure not to rush onto the train before the passengers get off, and wait for them to exit the train first. It is crucial to do this as it helps to increase the flow efficiency for people to board and get off the train.

Food & Drinks

Do not eat or drink when you are in the train. This is to ensure that no food or drink will be spilled out or scattered all over and also to ensure the cleanliness of the train. It is a public space after all.

Personal Hygiene

It is important to care for our personal hygiene as it is a public place. Make sure your body odour is pleasant before entering the train. Other than that, if you are sick, try your best not to cough openly or wear a mask. It is to ensure that germs will not spread wildly.


Do provide seating space for people in need i.e elderlies and pregnant ladies. Also, do refrain from seating at the priority seats if there are people in need. Aside from that, do not put your bag on the seat, do put it in between your legs instead.

No littering

Keep your rubbish with you until you find a trash bin. This is applicable everywhere not only when using public transportation. And for me, it actually plays a crucial role in changing the behaviour of the society as we can see that sometimes littering has become a norm and not an issue. Also, do refrain from throwing rubbish from the window of a car.

Indecent behaviour

People do respect those who are in love with their lovers but acting too affectionately in public makes it unpleasant to other people.

Bringing animals

People do love animals and pets but pets in the train are not encouraged as they might go out of our control and make a mess. Hence, it is advised to not bring one.

Respect ladies coach

Ladies coach is meant for women only, and men are not allowed. If you want your male partner to sit next to you on board, then it is advisable for you to take the normal coach.

Use earphones

Some people prefer silence as it brings calmness. Hence, if you want to listen to music or watch videos on your handphone or you are on your phone with someone, do wear earphones and speak moderately.

If you want a public transportation system that helps you go to work and go back home comfortably and safely, it is encouraged for you to be more ethical and considerate when using one. It is not as hard as you might think and these guidelines are all doable.

If you are the one who speaks out loud in the Grabcar or in the train, then next time, please minimise the volume of your speech. This is a good step for you to be an ethical passenger on board! And definitely you are doing great and would be a role model for others! ***

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