IN the past, there were numerous reports of Africans not being welcomed to stay in condominiums.
In recent months, there have been many complaints by Malaysian Indians unable to rent a room or apartment.
The latest report was about a Malaysian Indian woman who claimed that she had reached out to 300 different agents and landlords, but her rental applications were rejected solely based on her ethnicity.
I have no idea how complainants interacted with owners or agents resulting in rejections.
In any case, it is wrong to stereotype people, be they tenants, owners or agents, and each may have their own experiences or reasons.
For example, I have driven metered taxis in the Klang Valley from 2000 to 2010 without ever being robbed, although many of my passengers were foreign workers and Africans that other taxi drivers would shun for their safety.
Later, I was an active freelance trainer and developed training courses that included interpersonal skills on the importance of visual, vocal and verbal communication, which I learned while attending a world-class training programme in 1999 that was conducted globally.
Those trained can read a person like a book from their body language and this is the better way to judge character, not by race or skin colour.
During the decade I was driving taxis, there were indeed many Africans of dubious characters staying in our country and harassing our women.
They gained notoriety and the locals started to stereotype them by treating all Africans the same or regarding them as Nigerian conmen.
Of course, this is not true as there are good and bad people in every race, religion or region.
In 2001, Kuala Lumpur was overwhelmed with Arab tourists to the extent that some hotels would only take them in if they could produce a recommendation letter from their embassy.
This was also because many of the guest rooms occupied by them would need refurbishment.
It is similar to some condominium units where foreign tenants allow their children to use the walls inside the apartment as drawing boards.
I am not surprised if those letting out their rooms, apartments or houses have to be selective on tenants, especially those with bad experiences.
In 1975, I had no problem renting a room at Jalan Ipoh in Kuala Lumpur and later a house near Jalan Segambut in 1977, a shophouse apartment at Pudu in 1978, rooms in City Tower between 1981 and 1988, an apartment in City One in 2000 and apartment in Bandar Sri Permaisuri in 2005.
The last two apartments were vacated with more equipment than I moved in, leaving behind a proper kitchen sink, ceiling fan and air-conditioner that I paid to install.
They were also swept clean, just like another apartment I rented at Jalan Kemuning for operating a car rental service.
All the properties that I rented were scouted by me as I would go to suitable areas and look for “To Let” signs and decide after inspecting the interior.
I was never rejected by any owner and have heard real estate agents mention that they were tasked by owners to find good tenants.
Since 2007, I have been staying in a condominium near the city centre where four blocks of medium-height apartments were built on spacious grounds.
It is usually a very quiet place except when a nearby temple occasionally celebrates festivals at night, as happened recently.
Over the past 16 years, I have witnessed many tenants moving in and out, especially those from my block.
Now and then, there will be small groups of Vietnamese women brought in by syndicates to work as ladies of the night. They stay for a few weeks and try to be discreet.
With an international school nearby, the condo is popular with foreigners.
Sometimes I share a lift with a big and kind African woman who looks like a teacher, a tall and slim African girl who is probably a student and a dedicated Malay lady teacher. All are the gentlest of people.
Previously, more China nationals stayed here and were the loudest as they tended to speak forcefully, which is natural for them but not to my liking.
Similarly, local Indians can also be noisy and they often speak loudly even when close to each other but may be annoying others.
Unfortunately, the apartment floors here are thin. I am often disturbed by the upstairs occupant dragging the chair throughout the day and sometimes in the middle of the night.
Before daybreak, someone may be pounding the pestle gently but can still be heard from many floors.
Overall, I am very happy with my current residence, which is like a bungalow in the sky as it is a corner unit that does not share any common wall with neighbouring apartments.
The only pesky thing is to constantly drive away the pigeons from pooping just outside the windows.
Finally, I urge owners and occupants to try not to stereotype but to meet up with interested tenants and allow both parties to assess each other fairly.
We should open our hearts and therefore our world by mixing freely by welcoming everyone good, regardless of race.
In 2001, I bought an ashtray at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and managed to have the words “Colonel Abdul Hameed, an officer and a gentleman” engraved on the spot as I was very impressed with an Arab tourist together with his family who had repeatedly booked my taxi.
He was an instructor for fighter jet pilots in the Royal Saudi Air Force but was exceptionally gentle and his wife very humble. I said “From Malaysia” when presenting my gift to him.
The next day, I was embarrassed when he handed me a gold watch and perfume for my wife.
YS Chan is a master trainer for Mesra Malaysia and Travel and Tours Enhancement Course as well as an Asean Tourism Master Trainer. He is also a transport and training consultant and writer. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org