Poor etiquette in Indonesian public transportation

I really am sickened to see the way Indonesians treat their fellow passengers in an angkot (minivan) ride.

Let’s say that Jojon is about to get off from the Angkot at point X.

At point X, there is already Budi who is happy to see that the angkot he’s waiting for has finally arrived.

Now I have a question here….

When the angkot arrives at point X, what would Budi do?

A. Wait until Jojon alights first, then get on the angkot

B. Insist on getting on the angkot before Jojon alights

Well, if Budi is a typical Indonesian, he would certainly do action B. He would insist on getting on the angkot before Jojon alights, thus making a little commotion in the tiny claustrophobic space inside the angkot.

I’ve seen such cases more than once, and I always utter under my breath, “What the F*** is this guy thinking?? Couldn’t he let others to alight first before getting on the angkot?”

If I were the one who is about to alight, I would certainly utter that holy F-word to the guy. Fortunately I never encounter such a case myself.

In Singapore it is always announced over and over on the MRT station speakers (in 4 languages!) of how important it is to let the passengers inside alight first.

I mean…. They should use their logic: Don’t they know how much commotion and hassles it could create if they insist on getting inside the vehicle at the same time the passengers are alighting?

The Singaporean people must have got the same kind of attitude in the past that the government decided to have that speaker announcement on a repetitive manner.

Now let’s get back to the Indonesian etiquette.

Apart from the fallacies found in Indonesians, angkot and bus drivers are not free from faults either.

Oftentimes I find it freaking annoying to get on an angkot that is half-full with passengers, only to wait for another 30 minutes inside the UNMOVING angkot.

In Indonesian slang, we call it “Ngetem”, which is defined as:

a situation when the driver waits for future passengers either by driving the vehicle very slowly or not driving it at all, often to the point when the vehicle is filled with passengers till its fullest capacity, hence ignoring the necessities of all the passengers that has already gotten inside in the first place.

I personally think this ngetem activity should be categorised as a minor human right violation, because in more modernized countries like Japan or China, such a ngetem wait could generate losses in man hours.

Most of the time, ngetem is done in busy intersections by several angkots or buses together as to compete each other for more potential passengers, thus blocking the traffic surrounding them.

So…. What do I do to the drivers every time I’ve gotten on an angkot and they do ngetem?


There is nothing I could do, because other Indonesian passengers have seen ngetem as a normal part of their daily lives. If I voice my concern out loud to the driver, other passengers would certainly shun me as to make me follow the typical mob mentality in Indonesia.

Nobody has ever protested such an inconsiderate attitude by the drivers because, as we all know, it is normal for Indonesians to be laidback in every single aspect of their lives.

Poor etiquette in public transportation is just one thing amongst a pile of other poor attitudes that most Indonesians have.

So.. Am I making hasty generalizations about fellow Indonesians here?

Definitely not.

Ask any Indonesian you know about what they would do to the candy wrapper they have in hand:

Would they throw it into the dustbin…. Or do they prefer throwing it onto the street?

If they answer the question honestly, you may be appalled to find how inconsiderate Indonesians are of their environment cleanliness.

It is of no wonder then, if our beloved Nusantara could never reach a “developed country” status.

a0z0ra  – (18 June 2008 at 13:18)  

About ngetem.. Yoi.. I remember how annoying that is. So usually I choose the one that's already full so I don't have to waste my time.

Law enforcement is critical for developed countries. In Indonesia, people don't really respect them. For some reason any tilang-menilang is always viewed as a trap for the "victims" & a way for the officers to get money. I surely hope that this is only a matter of miscommunication.

Anonymous –   – (20 June 2008 at 03:18)  

hi thomas,

it does frustrating to live in crowded, hectic, mess city like Jakarta ya?! Hehehe, not to mention angkot attitude annoy us very much.

bhkpop  – (27 June 2008 at 04:54)  

Your posting surely addresses how we who fed up with Indonesian public transportation felt. I myself ride a motorcycle and am a driver.
People here don't respect to what has been regulated. Geesh.. But I can't really blame them since our government are not 100% committed to every law or regulation they created. They just want to avoid any demonstration due to new regulation that is strict. So I guess we can't have high expectation on our public transportation etiquette.

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