The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why did The Star not publish my letter?

As long term readers will know, I have had quite a few letters published in Malaysian newspapers. I have raised many issues in their pages, usually on various social issues, of some kind. A few weeks ago, I sent The Star (of Malaysia), the letter below. It was never published. The question is: why? The contents are socially helpful and would, if acted on, change Malaysia, for the better. Yet, someone, at The Star, preferred silence on the issue. The letter follows:

Malaysian taxi drivers lack road knowledge.

In London, licensed taxi drivers have to pass a special exam, called The Knowledge. This involves learning 320 routes through London and the location of every single landmark and place of interest within a six mile radius of Charing Cross. A London Black Cab driver never gets lost, never fails to know the way and gets the customer to their destination every time. Malaysian drivers, however, are a rather different breed. Many of them seem to have no knowledge of Kuala Lumpur at all.

Recently, I have become accustomed to taxi drivers not being able to find their way, to a well known location, in Kuala Lumpur – even if they are parked only a couple of kilometres away. I sometimes have to ask four or five drivers, before I can find one who knows the way, even though the road I am asking them to go to, is a main one. It seems that people are starting to drive cabs, without any detailed knowledge of Kuala Lumpur’s roads. This should simply not be allowed.

Sometimes, drivers pretend to know where somewhere is, just to get the fare. However, part way into the journey, it becomes clear that the driver is lost and has no clue where to go. How can this be called a “taxi service”? If Malaysia is ever to be considered a developed country, it must have a developed transport system – and taxis are part of that.

The solution is simple. Taxi drivers in Malaysia, should have to learn, in detail, every road, every route, every landmark and place of interest, in the bounds of the city or area in which they are licensed, before they are ever allowed to drive a cab. Furthermore, if a cab driver gets lost – or pretends to be lost – they should have no right to charge the customer, for the unaccountably long journey. Were these suggestions to be implemented, Malaysia would finally have a taxi service that meets the customers’ needs. Incidentally, it would also leave a much better impression on foreign visitors, who, at present, can only conclude that there is something incompetent about Malaysia’s taxi services. Is that the impression Malaysia wants to give, to the world?


What do you think of my solution to Malaysia's ignorant taxi drivers? Please comment below, if you wish.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 8:14 PM 


Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...

Taxis are definitely part of a developed transport system, and simply necessary for a significant segment of the population.

And, yes, the drivers need to be highly trained, accountable and honest!

I think the "learn every landmark solution" is very much a "carrot" solution, and the "fine for pretending to be lost" is a "stick" solution.

It's definitely amazing what local and national papers will publish in regard to letters and opinions.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Well, Adelaide, many Malaysian taxi drivers are not highly trained, accountable or any way. I think my solution would make a big difference, to the way taxis work...but I don't see it being implemented: after all, the national papers don't even want it voiced!

Yes. One can tell a lot about a country by what is and is not allowed to be said in its national newspapers. Some policies, clearly, must not be criticized!

Thanks for your comment.

10:31 AM  
Blogger Adelaide Dupont said...



Seek leverage with the contractors and subcontractors then?

Perhaps there might be a Cab Union under the bonnet.

[And they might well publish a magazine or newsletter].

(The logistics are just too much fun).

* * *

In Venezuela, I learnt, there is no taxi meter system. It is very much an honour system, which depends on negotiation between the traveller and the driver (something like street food). However, when locating street numbers, it can be very problematic, as the cab driver may mislead.

I also learnt a lot about the system in Hong Kong and probably the Philippines too.

And what about these Indian tuffins!

* * *

About the Malaysian system. Are there any recent inquiries [within the last 3-5 years] which information you can gather and use in an appropriate and relevant place?

Also, what are Malaysians (government and public) like about impressions and gaining/losing face? This would change your presentation.

3:01 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am not aware of any public inquiries. In Malaysia the powers that be seem to think that all is well with such things...perhaps driving around in ministerial cars does that to you.

If they are not printing my letter, it means such views are not allowed to be voiced. Thus, nothing will be done about the situation...probably ever.

10:35 PM  

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