will you respect us when we invite you to our home?


As a hotelier over the years I have heard (and thank God I was spared from witnessing) my fair share of foreign tourists behaving in ways that are simply unacceptable in the eyes of the locals and disrespectful to the local customs and culture.

When certain antics are seen as common and allowed in one country does not mean it is acceptable when you cross borders especially when the western and eastern culture and values often inevitably clash. I’m not talking about some behaviours though unpleasant, it is still tolerated by the locals (as observed from our viewpoint of being in the hospitality line) such as the foreign tourists taking advantage of our mild demeanour and warm hospitality and demand what they think they deserve or show their superiority over the locals in words and in deeds (oh yes, you encounter those now and then and I am sure you find them everywhere) but the behaviours that truly offend and go against the local culture such as going topless by the swimming pool or on the beach, wearing overly revealing clothing, public display of affections or carrying out in plain view acts that are meant to be done in private and behind closed doors (you know what I mean!) are just not acceptable in conservative Malaysia, or in any other countries that condemns the same especially for the last one which I believe is considered a misdemeanour act even in western countries and yet, ignorant tourists have been seen doing just that on our Malaysian soil.

The recent headline over the incident where some western tourists were seen stripped naked, urinated, cursed and swore on Mt. Kinabalu, a world heritage site out of thrills and enjoyment and had subsequently caused an outrage among the natives who view the mountain as sacred grounds was a typical example of actions born out of arrogance and disrespectfulness of the foreign tourists toward the local customs and beliefs.

I personally do not subscribe to the belief that the earthquake happened on 5 June which has claimed 18 lives was caused by the wrath of the mountain god or stirred spirits due to the desecration of sacred grounds by the disrespectful and contemptible behaviour of these tourists but a very scientific explanation on the movement of the tectonic plates. What really enraged me, and majority of our Sabahan (or any host in any country I believe will concur) however, was the simple fact that while we opened our arms and invited these so-called well-travelled westerners to our beloved home and they in return in their conceitedness, ignorance, insensitivity, immaturity and thoughtlessness insulted our genuine hospitality and mocked the customs and traditions of the natives.


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