And now for a public-service announcement

Based on the public-service announcements we heard on English-language radio, here are things that concern Malaysia: lateness, and toilet flushing.

On our drive from Kuala Lumpur to the old port city of Malacca, we heard an American-style rap encouraging listeners to be on time. I wish I could remember the specific rhymes, but the basic message was, be realistic about how long it will take you to get to your appointment! If you’re traveling at rush hour, assume there will be traffic! (Sidebar: It is true that traffic in Malaysian cities is formidable. Upon arriving in Malacca, it took us about an hour to travel a mile and a half.) Most importantly, if you’re going to be late, be honest about it! Call ahead! The best bit was at the end, when Generic Imitation Rapper rapped, “This has been a punctuation rap by Super Fly G.”

So, that’s interesting, I thought. Malaysia not only has English-language radio, but English-language radio has enough listeners that someone is making PSAs for that market. Also Super Fly G (or whatever his name was) may need a punctuation vs. punctuality explainer.

But THEN: toilet flushing. Apparently this is a problem. We’ve seen signs reminding people to flush the toilet pretty frequently on this trip, but Malaysia is escalating the campaign to radio. So here’s the pro-flushing ad, as best I can recall and transcribe.

<<_Sound of peeing. Sound of peeing concludes._>>

Announcer: OK, now go! You can do it!

Whiny girl: I caaaaaaaannnnnn’t!

Announcer: You can!

Whiny girl: It’s too haaaaaarrrd!

Announcer: If you can do it at home, you can do it here! Come along now!

Whiny girl: Hmmph. Oka-ayyy… uuuuUUUUUUUNNNNNNNHHHHHHHH!!!!!

<<_Sound of a toilet flushing._>>

Announcer: Way to go!

Whiny girl: Whew! <<_Sound of a small fart._>>

Really! Squeaky little fart noise!

I have no idea what this is about. The flushing bit I get. Maybe polls indicate that perceived difficulty is the reason people don’t flush public toilets? Surprising, but OK. But why is the passing of gas included? Why are we poking fun at the bodily functions of someone who has just done what we asked them to do? It seems like negative reinforcement. Though it is memorable.

Speaking of social norms, intestinal gas, and Malaysia — who knew we had so much material here? — Kevin also read a local newspaper editorial exhorting people to move away from other people if they need to pass gas. Don’t fart next to your friends! Go downwind!

It’s funny, because we were in Malaysia when Osama bin Laden was killed, and, because Malaysia is a Muslim country, we wondered if there was going to be a ton of news coverage, or outrage, or something. And there was some news coverage, but probably about as much as there was everywhere else in the news-having world. All the fart coverage made a more lasting impression.

Here are our pictures from Kuala Lumpur! Most of them are of food, but none of them is of anyone farting.

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