Nothing Like a Malaysian Stoplight to Make You Feel Self-Righteous

There’s nothing like a Malaysian stoplight to make you feel self-righteous.

I approached a rather new stoplight this morning. It’s been operational for a month or two. It’s situated by a school and a new housing development and on mornings like this, Sunday, traffic is rather light.

As I came to a stop at the glaring red light, I felt very much alone — like all eyes around me were asking the question: “Who does he think he is?”

A motorbike approached from behind. It passed me by, continuing right through the red light as if he had special permission from the traffic police. I looked around at the vacant scene and felt rather ridiculous, sitting at a red light for no apparent reason accept that it is red. That fact alone didn’t seem to stop the other motorbikes who continued through the intersection unimpeded.

Then a car came up from behind. I felt this large, looming presence over my shoulder. I felt the driver’s stares, and my motorbike held him back like a schoolmarm unwilling to allow their students out for spring break even one minute early.

I felt the negative peer pressure. I felt the condemning scorn from those who accused me of going against Malaysian culture – red lights are optional.

I revved my bike, wanting to throw off all restraint and cruise freely as a local, unshackled from authority, and free to live according to my own schedule and desires.

I pondered. I waited. I fidgeted. I kept glancing back at the car.

And I …

Waited for the light to turn green.

The rebel, I am not.

Self-righteous at a stoplight, I am.



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