Netizens give mixed reaction to tweet of ‘Mat Salleh’ tourists haggling with Melaka rickshaw rider

DOUBTLESSLY, the fall in the value of the ringgit has made Malaysia an attractive tourist destination especially to the American, British, European and even Singaporean tourists.

Henceforth, this brings us to a post on X (formerly Twitter) on the practice of haggling which eventually stirred the proverbial hornet’s nest among Malaysian netizens.

To begin with, user @SimpletonED was aghast at the sight of Mat Salleh tourists haggling with a rickshaw rider in Malacca’s Jonker Street.

He berated this practice because the prices for the ride is standard. He also seemed to have the impression that these tourists were merely taking advantage of the situation and the weak currency.

He felt these tourists were penny-pinching and ended his outburst with a very unwelcoming message.

The post generated a lot of responses, some agreeing with the poster’s sentiments, some not. Here is a sample.

Some suggested that perhaps these travellers were backpackers on a tight budget.

Some asked what was wrong with bargaining. It is an age-old practice in this region and many tourists are advised, rightly or wrongly, to do so as it is normal for vendors to jack up prices.

Some said the haggling was part of the tourist experience.

Some expatriates turned the table around and claimed that they were regularly subjected to “premium Mat Salleh tax”.

Some netizens though, very pointedly, highlight that this practice was not limited to visiting foreigners but many locals do the same, both abroad and at home.

The balik UK (literally, “go back to UK”) jibe is ill-informed as tourist dollars are essential to the local economy, no matter how distasteful the poster may find the behaviour of some visitors unless the poster wishes to see further depreciation of the ringgit.

Regardless of the state of the ringgit, most travellers are aware of the existence of “tourist prices” and are uncomfortable at the idea of being fleeced. Malaysians are notorious hagglers and it is only fair to expect some tourists to do the same when visiting these shores.

In this instance, it is very much a case of ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans’.  – March 4, 2024


Main image credit: Majlis Bandaraya Melaka Bersejarah

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