Jakarta – Long-distance train passengers in Indonesia can now witness employees at train stations standing in line, putting their right hand over their heart and then bowing towards a long-range train that leaves the terminal. Introduced only recently, such gesture by the train workers is said to be somewhat similar to how the Japanese greet each other.
“Actually, the purpose of such gesture is to express (our) respect and thanks,” Agus Komarudin, spokesperson of state-owned railway operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia (PT KAI), as reported by Kompas.com on Monday (22/10). It is also meant for PT KAI to maintain its customer service excellence, Agus Komarudin said.
Long-distance railway services are mainly available in Java and Sumatra, two of Indonesia’s most populated major islands. Similar projects are being built in Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua, under the administration of President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo.
Meanwhile, the public reception to the new gestures by PT KAI workers come with pros and cons. Those refusing argued that the gesture of respect was too much and that it did not reflect the Indonesian culture. They also complained that PT KAI people bowing towards train passengers only showed an inferiority attitude. In Japan, bowing is normally responded with a similar gesture, they argued.
In response, Agus Komarudin said any comments from the public would be taken seriously. In fact, according to Agus, PT KAI had conducted a study before introducing the gesture. Over the past years, the railway operator has made serious efforts to improve its service, receiving a thumbs-up from travelers.