Prominent academician looks forward to Shinkansen culture in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 (Bernama) — A prominent academician is very much looking forward to Malaysia having the Japanese Shinkansen bullet train infrastructure, saying it will go a long way towards moving forward in all aspects of the Malaysian mindset, especially in terms of discipline, cleanliness, punctuality and efficiency.

Prof. Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak, who is chairman of Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, said the Japanese had got an edge above everybody else in this dimension because they were able to fuse technology and culture together.

“That’s the attractive part for me as far as the Japanese are concerned, not because they are Japanese but the set of values that they have got that other people are probably still struggling with,” he told Bernama.

Japan, which invented the bullet train over 50 years ago, is making a strong bid to build the RM50 billion high speed rail (HSR) linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore in what is touted as Southeast Asia’s biggest infrastructure project.

International bids for the project, to be financed jointly by Malaysia and Singapore, are expected to be submitted by the middle of this year with the successful contractor due to be known by the year-end.

Prof. Dzulkifli said if the Japanese bid was successful and being the first in the region, the most important thing for the recipient country would be training for the people to get used to the technology.

“Often people talk about training in a very generic sense but for the project of this specific nature, I think we need to be quite conscious of what sort of training do we need. Is it just technical training or is it more than a technical training?

“I would venture to say that we need to do more than just a technical training because the whole experience of Shinkansen is a cultural experience at the same time. So, you have a technical train but culturally you are not knowing exactly how to deal with it, then I think we can have a problem later on,” he said.

Prof. Dzulkifli also listed out several other highly-positive values of the Shinkansen that would make it much more than just a speed ride between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, including being quiet on the train.

“You go on some Shinkansen there is what they call this ‘Silent Coach’ and you cannot make a single sound in that coach. Those are the things that we need to be very mindful of because this is what this experience is”, he said.

Another aspect is the zero fatality and the punctuality of the Shinkansen.

He spoke of how the Japanese would even apologise at one point because the train had departed 20 seconds ahead of time, adding that because in Malaysia culture and technology are compartmentalised, “we have not been apologising even when we are 20 hours late”.

Stressing the importance of fusing culture and technology, he said, actually the Japanese and Malaysian cultures are not much different since both peoples are very polite and respect the elderly and Eastern values.

“But the whole difficulty with it is we don’t practise it. They practise it right to the very details. We don’t. So, we don’t get into that advanced country status mentally. We have got all these nice physical things around us, but we are still where we were 60 years ago before Independence,” added Prof. Dzulkifli.

He said it would also be proper for Malaysia to take up the offer by Japan to set up training centres at a number of local universities to produce skilled manpower to run the HSR system.

On this score, Malaysia had the advantage of already having a “good platform” in terms of working with the Japanese for over 30 years under the Look East Policy and the Shinkansen would just be another layer of technology that would not be that difficult to adopt.

“Malaysians must not miss that opportunity,” he said.


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