IPOH, Sun. - A new breed of Malaysians who are "polite, clean and efficient" is wanted, and the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry is taking the lead in its creation.
It is preparing a memorandum for the Cabinet on this matter, under its Mesra Malaysia campaign.
The memorandum will have input from several Ministries, including Housing and Local Government, Education, National Unity and Social Development, the Immigration Department, police and other related agencies.
Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said it was a national effort to improve public service and make Malaysians more civic conscious.
"As I have said many times before, the quality of tourism services in Malaysia must be above par to promote the country as a world-class tourist destination.
"The standard of service is a worry to the Government," he said after opening the Pertubuhan Seni Silat Gayong Warisan Serantau Malaysia awards ceremony today.
The New Sunday Times, on July 7, had highlighted the deplorable condition of public toilets. The Special Reports team had found many filthy public toilets with no running water, soap and tissue rolls.
Abdul Kadir said the Mesra Malaysia campaign was a long-term programme which needed everyone's participation to make it a success.
On efforts to attract tourists from the Middle East, India, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, he said the promotional programmes had been effective.
Between March and last month, tourist arrivals had exceeded one million monthly, mostly from the Middle East and China. This was still 10 per cent lower than the arrivals for the first four months of last year.
Abdul Kadir also said silat would be included in the tourism calendar of events next year to promote it as a Malaysian cultural activity and to encourage participation from non-Malays. It was also aimed at promoting racial integration.
He said silat activities could prevent youth from going astray by giving them something challenging and worthwhile to do.
He said silat had lost its appeal among the young because associations had stopped promoting it.
"In the past, silat had been very popular in villages and among the young. Today, it has not been highlighted and youths are not interested.
"Efforts must be made to re-introduce silat and this time encourage participation from all levels of society."
Abdul Kadir said he would meet Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein soon to jointly organise silat programmes, and to include it as an international sports activity.
Written by MIMI SYED YUSOF
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