Off to a Funeral


mas

(No matter what, Malaysia remains where my heart and soul lies at the end of the day. And nothing kicks starts the notion than flying on the national carrier whilst having hot delicious nasi lemak for company)

Somehow it was great to fly back on MAS – for a couple of things.

One, it was good to hear safety announcements in Bahasa Malaysia again. Two, they served nasi lemak for lunch which was a sure sign that we are heading back home. And one of the first things that I did once I am back home was to catch up on my sleep. I could not help it – I even doze off whilst I was having conversations. Having a weekend and then thereafter the CNY holidays was just perfect to catch up on a break.

So I thought…

I was made “aware” of a distinct relative who was admitted to hospital in a serious condition. And last weekend, the dreadful news came. The relative had passed away. Being a distinct relative, there was always an option for me to simply opt out from going for the funeral. Further, the funeral was taking place in Johore – a place that was considered “quite far away” to drive (although it was almost the same distance and time to drive up North). The one that nails the urge for not going is that the funeral was taking place on a Sunday (I was working on Monday)

But there was 3 reasons that was prompted me to attend this funeral. First, despite it being a funeral of a distinct relative but he was somehow linked with other relatives who are closer to me. And there will be questions raised in the next family gathering. I had some obligations to them. Second, my father in law who is staying up in Taiping is taking the bus (yes the bus – we did not know, otherwise we would have picked him up half way) all the way to Johore for the same funeral. If he can take the bus and travel for 8-9 hours, then what’s stopping us with cars half way through from attending the same funeral, right? And third, the deceased had the same (well, almost) age as me (and brother in laws). Somehow, that made me to decided to go for the funeral.

It was time for planning for the one day trip to South and it was similar to the trip to the East Coast but with a small difference. We going to use my car as I am going to do most of the driving. It was a good opportunity to test the new tires. And to ensure it is going to be a fast drive down South and back, we decided to leave the ladies & kids at home (we already anticipating massive traffic jam on the way back, so it is best to leave the ladies and the children at home). In the car, would be me and 2 of my brother in laws (one is the substitute driver and another is our navigator – he had been to the house once)

The plan was finalised on Saturday evening (it took some time on the phone with various parties to finalise who was going and who was staying). My brother in law would pick up his wife and his daughter and another of the brother in law in the morning and meet me at my house. He would leave his car and drop his wife & daughter at my house (my wife and my kids will be around to keep them company).

map

(The trip down South – frankly the time and distance was similar to the trip up North but somehow it was less tiring. Perhaps it was because it has been almost 15 years since I made the trip to South)

We suppose to leave from my house (since it is nearer to the South compared to our 2 houses) at 5 am. I woke up at 4 am and by 4.45 am was all ready for the trip. I had even double checked the car and parked it outside the porch so that my brother in law can park his car easily. I also set the GPS coordinates and locked in the destination. At 5 am, he was no where to be seen. He finally showed up at almost 5.30 am – it was still good as my deadline remained 6 am (assuming we have a 4 hours to drive). The three guys finally left at about 5.45 am.

The journey to Johore was rather a pleasant one and surprisingly is not tiring compared to the trip up North. I hardly fell asleep along the way despite waking up earlier than usual. My new tires, Michelin XM2 was holding well and was quiet all the way. I had checked the route before hand (thanks, Google Map) and had decided to only use the GPS once we had reached the exit of the highway. No speeding on the highway and I maintain to the left lanes whenever possible. We made 1 pit stop at Pagoh for breakfast (a sorry looking nasi lemak with un-reasonable price was waiting for us). Quick breakfast and we were back on the highway and there was still more than 100 km to go before we reach the deceased’s house. Traffic was still sparse and it remained a smooth drive. It took us less than 4 hours including pit stop.

Using GPS is a must when venturing into an unfamiliar place and it was the case here too when we reached the house without getting lost. An uncle of mine who was not using GPS, got lost 4 times in the same area before finally finding the house. Fearing that there will be a big crowd later, we parked the car on the main road, some distance from the house but where I can still see the car from the house. We noticed a large tent outside the house which affirmed that we are at the right place. No familiar faces at the tent in front of the house, so we walked into the house. The coffin was in the middle of the house, surrounded by grieving family members. We said our condolences and prayers and headed back to the tent outside the house. The smell of chemicals inside the house was overwhelming and I started to feel dizzy.

Sitting under the tent outside the house with my brother in law (my father in law joined us soon after – he was tired after an almost 9 hours of traveling by bus) and with a fresh breeze, my head started to get clearer. Not many people have arrived despite the scheduled time for the deceased body was suppose to be taken to the crematorium. It suppose to be at 10 am but soon 10.30 am and 11 am had passed and soon it was showing 11.30 am. I looked at my brother in law and he looked at me – we suppose to leave at 11.30 am if we are going to make it home early. My brother in law went and talked to one of the relatives on the “status” – apparently there were some delay and we have to wait at least another 2 hours for the final ceremony (it actually took longer than that). I don’t blame them – no one prepares for a funeral upfront.

Wait for another 2 hours?

Well, that was our cue to take a “walk” to our car and head back home. Since there was a funeral, there were no “good-byes” and “see you later”. We quietly walked to my car – good thing it was parked far away and near to the house, otherwise our “early” departure would have been very noticeable.

traffic

(When things slows down on the highway, just make sure the car has enough petrol and the bladder empty. It was good that the traffic was moving despite the heavy traffic)

We had to head back to the highway, so GPS came in handy again. But before we do that, a short pit stop for fuel and use of bathroom was necessary. As I drove out, I misjudged a junction and took the wrong road. Thankfully the GPS was quick to recompute the route and in fact came out with a route with less traffic (so we could “fly” towards the highway). Soon, we found the toll plaza but it was not the NS toll booth (we mistakenly thought it was the NS toll). It was actually the 2nd Link Expressway. There was no lane for cash but instead all need Touch N Go for access. The problem was I left my TNG card at home and my brother in law did not have one either. Cars started to pill up behind us and when I thought we had a big problem at hand, I remember I had the Tesco loyalty card in my wallet and that came with TNG feature. It even had enough credit for the toll. We were saved!!

It was not long before we reached the actual NS highway and initially the traffic flow was good. We managed to clock 110 km/h most of the route. But once reached Negri Sembilan, the traffic started to crawl. R&R was packed full with cars as well. We made our pit stop at Ayer Keroh for fuel and a very late lunch. We could not find a parking spot but at further up front, we managed to find a spot and had an excellent nasi lemak with a good portion of chicken. There was long queue at the petrol station as well. Then it was back to the crawl on the highway. We finally reached home almost at 8 pm and despite being stuck with traffic jam most of the way (no thanks to road works and a couple of broke down express buses).

Despite I drove to and fro such a distance, all in one day, surprisingly I was not feeling that tired or sleepy. And after the late evening shower, I was still feeling fresh to drive to restaurant near the house for dinner.

Speed Demons on Highway 2


(There is always a limit to everything we do and a limit to speeding is there for obvious reasons. Slow down and you will live longer. Some idiots would never learn no matter what happens when one speeds over the speed limit on the highway)

Driving on Malaysian highways often promises a good story for this blog and it is the case for this week and one that deal with speed demons on highways. About 9 years ago, I had a close encounter with a speed demon and a recent trip north saw  another close encounter with another speed demon.

But first read this first:-

At least 37 people were killed when a bus in a mountainous area of Malaysia plunged into a ravine on Wednesday, the country’s Bernama news agency said, citing rescue officials. There also were 16 people injured, and they were sent to hospitals, the report said.

There were 53 people on board. Among the dead were Bangladeshi, Thai and Chinese nationals. The bus driver also died. The bus was descending from Genting Highlands when it fell into a 200-feet-deep ravine, Bernama reported. The incident occurred near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

(Source)

Back in August last year, the country saw one of the worst accident relating to express buses. Before that, back in 2011, there was another horrible accident involving express/tour buses where 28 people perished. And beginning this year when it comes to express buses, it was not good news either:-

Three people died and at least 14 injured when an express bus they were travelling in crashed at KM107.2 of the North-South Expressway, from Pagoh to Yong Peng today. The bus driver was believed to have lost control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into a railing and landing at the side of the highway at about 2pm.

The Star Online reported that the bus was travelling from Kuala Lumpur to Johor with 17 passengers, including a number of foreigners. Two men and a 10-year-old boy were killed while seven passengers suffered serious injuries.

(Source)

Last weekend, we had to do a quick trip up North and it was sort of a last minute decision.

My mother in law was not well and my wife despite postponing the call to go and visit her somehow knew that time was up to visit her mother. So instead of going during CNY when one can expect sheer madness on highways, we decided to go one week earlier and come back the very next day. The highway was almost empty and we actually had empty tables at the famed R&R. There was the usual big bike convoys dominating the fast lane and having little care for the 110 km/h speed limit. The same went to Singapore registered cars – they were driving on the fast lane like they were on a private race track. The same also went to those with luxury car where the RM300 ticket for speeding would hardly made any dent on their pockets.

It was not the first time I encounter them but I seriously think that some of the idiots who uses the highway should be barred from using vehicles for life. I mean if they are bloody ignorant of the law, then at least they should have some common sense. They would either drive above the speed limit like their back is on fire (or hog the fast lane) and when confronted with another faster vehicle, they would dash into the slower lane without sense of space or the courtesy to put on the indicators to warn the slower traffic on the left. Some would cut in too close for comfort, completely ignoring the fact that there is another vehicle on the slow lane.

Then towards Ipoh, we saw something that left us speechless. There was a car overtook us on the fast lane and I know it was driven above the speed limit (I was already driving at 110 km/h then). Following just behind that speeding car is a police car but that too is driven above the speed limit. Well, I am fine with that but what irked me was that the police did nothing to pull over the speeding car and give the driver a speeding ticket. Perhaps the policeman had a bad stomach ache and rushing to the nearest toilet. Perhaps. But then again, it sends the wrong message and if the enforcement agencies keeps one eyes closed, you can be assured that there would not be the end of fiery deaths on the highway.

The stay with the in-laws was pretty short (it usually do, ha ha) but enough for me to take a good break for the trip back. My wife had fulfilled her part of the obligation and that was good enough, at least for now. The next day as usual we decided to leave early to KL. My sister in law and her 2 year old daughter followed us back and since there was plenty of space in my car, we were more than happy to accommodate them. I hardly drove more than 90 km/h and kept to the 110 km/h speed limit at certain part of the highway. And with a good selection of songs in my flash drive, it was a relaxing ride back.

aeroline_speeding2

(It took mere minutes for these 2 buses – there is another in front of this bus – to disappear from my sight despite we were traveling at about 110 km/h)

Some kilometers before Behrang (about 11.20 am on Sunday), I noticed something on my rear mirrors – not one but two speeding high deck express buses (High deck just like the high deck bus where 28 people died back in 2011). Knowing on how they usually fly through on the fast lane (and sometimes on the slow lane, adding the risks to other road users), I maintained on the middle lane and I was already cruising at 100 – 110 km/h. The first bus (Aeroline) bus flies through on the slow lane and quickly cut into the middle lane, a few paces in front of me. The second bus came right behind my car in the middle lane and started to flash his headlights (if we has stopped, I would bashed his head for coming up so close, endangering me and my family and flashing his headlights like a big dirty bully). He was trying to bully me to move over from the middle lane but since it was not safe to move over, I continued to drive on the middle lane, hoping that the idiot would move over on the fast lane. After all, he was faster than me – both buses was flying at about 140 km/h!

I got my son to snap some photos to be passed over to JPJ (hopefully they will blacklist these drivers) whilst I concentrated on driving. And I was quite angry too. Not only the idiots were endangering me and other road users with their deadly driving, they were also endangering the passengers. But the, when I went to Aeroline’s website, I read the biggest joke from the company titled “Safety”:-

AEROLINE coaches are built on high quality imported Scania (Sweden)chassis. AEROLINE operates its very own dedicated maintenance facility that is manned by experienced mechanics to maintain the coaches to our own standards, by using only quality parts.

Furthermore, each AEROLINE captain is hand picked and undergo regular training and monitoring. With the aid of GPS tracking system, our command centre is able to monitor the operation of each bus in real time, thus ensuring every journey a safe one.

(Source)

Ya right, perhaps who ever wrote that “safety” statement should hand pick himself to take up a trip in their Aeroline buses where driving at more than 140 km/h and weaving in & out dangerously on a high deck buses meant nothing for these drivers. One wrong move weaving in and out of traffic or one tire blow out or encounter with one inexperienced driver and you will have another 20 – 30 passenger on the ditch and dead. No matter what the politicians, the bus company owners & management and the public may say after a tragedy, it will not bring back the dead. But unfortunately Aeroline is not the only bus company that I noticed speeding above the speed limit (but that does not mean they are not guilty of sheer recklessness). Another bus (from another bus company) just behind these Aeroline buses was also speeding at 140 km/h and was also weaving in and out of traffic. Within minutes, all these buses had disappeared from our sight as far as we can see up front.

And one main reason for this is because there is a serious lapse of enforcement. It is a fact that we fare badly when it comes to enforcement and it is not due to the laziness of the enforcement agencies. Sometimes the need for a stricter enforcement is curtailed, not by shortcomings of the enforcement agencies but rather due to the short sighted & (very, very) dumb politicians who flip-flops enforcement related policies on weak reasons and shout for all the wrong reasons.

This is where we have to relook into the implementation of the Automated Enforcement System (AES) on a larger scale. This is where also, rather unfortunately, the Pakatan fellows failed us miserably – yes, initially there seemed to be some “questions” in awarding the AES implementation to the private companies but that was not the main concern here. It was clear that the Pakatan politicians were barking on the wrong tree and had been asking all the wrong questions. The main concern is to ensure a strict adherence to the traffic rules and AES would have provided that unbiased, all weather, 24 x 7 automated enforcement that the other enforcement agencies may not been to able to provide effectively.

And now, nation wide AES implementation seemed to be on hold and that is allowing more idiots to break the traffic laws on a greater scale. They know that they cannot be caught (forget the yearly Ops Sikap – one, it is done during major holidays when the highways are packed thus reducing the opportunity to fly like you were on a race track and two, these drivers know that the police is out there in a greater force to nab these offenders) . That is why on other “non festival” days bus drivers like the above Aerobus drivers do not hesitate for a second to drive dangerously on the highways and endangering others on the road. Some unlucky ones end up killing their passengers and the whole vicious cycles starts again.

And there is another aspect of strict enforcement, ahem, since Najib been going around saying that the Government does not enough money for subsidies and what not. The more drivers nabbed for violation of traffic rules (and trust me, you will get a truckload of them without a sweat), the more fines can be collected and these money can be re-used for critical Government expenses (flying the fat lady overseas in private jets however does not count).

Just imagine that in the first 1 week of the AES in operation, it captured 63,558 offenses (an average of one offense every two-and-a-half minutes). Even if you use a modest RM50 fine per offense (speeding ticket will cost RM300), the Government can easily collect RM300,000 per week. Imagine how much they can collect on monthly basis. That is a lot of money that can be used again to beef up enforcement (more AES cameras) and make the roads safer again. Insurance claims has not been cheap as well – “net claims paid out for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents in the first nine months of 2013 have risen to RM4.1 billion, compared to RM3.68 billion in the same period in 2012”.

We may have one of the best highways in the region (we still do) but we also have the 3rd world mentality when it comes to using them in the right way and in a safe way. You can be rest assured that you going to have more buses speeding above the speed limit and more deaths from unsafe speeding vehicles if attitude and enforcement does not change.

Please keep this mind as you balik kampung this Chinese New Year. Enjoy the holidays and have a plenty of rest.

Toll Hike, A New Year Gift?


Read these first:-

tol naik sebelum dn selepas_omak_kau

toll

(The sweet talk before the elections – one good proof that one should never trust politicians who had become whiter than white, holier than the holiest man around when elections are around the corner. Barely 5 years after the election, all the sweet talk and endless promises of reducing the toll are quickly forgotten and it was back to business as usual. Image source: Omak Kau & Malaysian Insider)

Probably the last big bang from Najib’s army of highly paid consultants and dumb Ministers for year 2013…

If you had thought Najib acted like the Santa Claus on the loose before the elections, dishing out goodies and promising the sky to gain votes (you would not have missed “you help me, I help you” election bribes – it was on the front page on daily basis), here’s one for the die-hard BN fans to rejoice in tears for this coming New Year:-

The anticipated toll hike is coming too soon after the hike in electricity tariff and increases in the prices of sugar and fuel, say economists. The speculated rise of between 50 sen and RM2 in toll rates, coupled with other price hikes, would impinge on the quality of life. The hike, which will take effect next month, will affect 15 highways.

“The Government could lengthen the term of the agreements or ask the toll operators to space out the hikes,” he said. He warned that the sudden hike could result in a sharp escalation in the cost of living, which would be detrimental to the economy.

“Besides damage to the economy, there might also be widespread social repercussions. The cost of goods and services will go up,” he said. Yeah said it was unfair to raise toll charges for congested highways.

(Source)

To fair, despite of the overwhelming news and strong indications from “people” in the Government on the net & public media, the Government have not confirmed the actual quantum on the toll hike. But the hike nonetheless is still on the paper – it is just an matter of how much more and when the hike will be. Of course depending how loud the protests from the oppositions and the rakyat will be in the coming weeks, ha ha.

To tell you the truth, I never understood why there is a need to increase the toll other than it is stated IN the agreement. Not matter how I tried to understand the maths behind the proposed hike, I could not crack it. It is not like the price of petrol or raw materials which is dictated by global market supply & demand although interestingly when the global oil price came down, the petrol price remained unchanged. Well, no wonder some call this Government, the “Barang Naik” Government – there is only one way to go and that is up. The computation of the toll hikes on the other hand had remained a big secret – anyone who is able to decipher and explain it well & logically deserves a Nobel prize in Mathematics. It has been shrouded in high secrecy and confusion and totally detached from reality from day 1.

Let’s do some simple maths, shall we?

Let’s assume at the point of inking the agreement, the toll computation is set based on 10 cars per year and the toll is set at 1 car = RM1 (in total RM10). RM10 per year for x number of years is sufficient to cover the highway construction plus some sizable profit for the toll concessionaires.

In the same crappy agreement, it is also assumed that in Year 5, the number of cars per year is projected at only 5 cars per year. Why the lower figure, you may ask? If you are doing projections, that is very natural – better to keep lower figure for worst case scenario and you will avoid the need to go back to the stakeholders for more funding. Thus in order to sustain the same RM10, the toll is now increased to RM2 per car.

That seems to be case here whenever the Government announces the increase in toll – that it is IN the agreement. But is this case in reality? What happens if the number of cars per year had actually increased to 100 cars (instead of the projected 5 cars) per year? At RM2 per car (since it is IN the agreement), the toll concessionaires would be make a killing of RM200 instead of the rightful RM10 per year.

They don’t come back and say that the toll will now be lowered to just RM0.10 to maintain the same RM10 per year, do they? There is always one to go and that is up.

Now you know why the rest of us who are caught in the mega traffic jam on daily basis is very pissed off whenever the Government “after taking into consideration of the rakyat‘s hardship” announces increase in toll. Why the increase when there has been corresponding increase in number of traffic using the highway? We all know that there are 100 cars on the road and not 5 cars as projected in the agreement. We all know that as more commercial & residential areas are developed and more vehicles uses the highway, the toll charges should be reducing and not increasing.

And we know that the concessionaires are already making substantial profit even with the current toll amount:-

According to the the Pandan MP, based on the North-South Expressway’s (PLUS) details of cost in its 2010 yearly report, the longest highway in the country collected RM4.098 billion through its toll collection in 2011 and gained a net profit  RM2.515 billion before tax or a 61% profit margin.

“PLUS however only spent RM241 million or 6% on that profit margin to maintain the highway. They even spent more for salary, administration and etc by spending RM397 million. “There are not many businesses in the world that can get a profit of 61% like PLUS has recorded. Looking at the 6% they spent for maintenance alone is enough evidence that the current toll rates is too high and multiply PLUS’s profits,” Rafizi told a press conference at PKR’s headquarters today.

He further added that Kesas Sdn Bhd who operates Kesas highway recorded a 121% profit margin between the year 2008 to 2012 as reported by Maybank Investment Research on Nov 2013. Meanwhile, based on Lingkaran Trans Kota Holding Berhad’s (Litrak) 2013 yearly report, the company that operates the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP), collected RM369 million and gained a net profit of RM180 million before tax, a 49 per cent profit margin.

“The 49% net profit before tax is high, higher than what is made in oil and gas industries,” he claims.

(Source)

Ok, never mind, let’s not focus on the toll concessionaires – they are profit driven companies anyway and so the more money they make, it’s better for them. Let’s instead focus on the other side of the spectrum – the Government who by right should not be profit driven. The very same Government who promised “gradual reduction” of the toll when they went around on election campaign.

Let’s look at the typical reasons given by the Government in justifying the hike in toll – 1. the obvious and probably the dumbest reason that it is IN the agreement and there’s NOTHING anyone in the whole galaxy can do about it 2. the Government does NOT have enough money to continue to subsidize the increase (as a responsible Government, they want it for “cough” better use).

Let’s look at the first reason – that it is IN the agreement and that the Government is unable to do anything about it. But are they really that helpless as they are portraying it to be? Then read this:-

The Government can prevent the toll hike by renegotiating the terms of agreements with operators, said PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli.

“Most highway concessions are dominated by subsidiaries of state-owned companies, so the Federal Government has the power and leverage to renegotiate the terms,” he said. He said PLUS, Prolintas and Gamuda were three of the biggest highway toll operators and all had Government links.

“Based on either share ownership or financial assistance, the Federal Government has the power and influence discuss the matter with concessionaires and ask them to re-work the terms of he agreement,”

“The excuse that the increases cannot be avoided because of agreements signed with the private sector cannot be accepted because a large part of the toll concessions are held by the Government, directly or indirectly,” he added.

(Source)

Put it this way – no contract in the world is cast in stone especially when it is made by the ever powerful Government. Nationalization and privatization have been done in the past with a stroke of a pen. There is always an opportunity to renegotiate – the shareholders of the toll concessionaires may not like it but at the end, they are doing good for the nation by causing the price of general goods not to spike up due to the increase in toll. And speaking about the shareholders, the interesting part here is as what Rafizi had said – the excuse that the increases cannot be avoided because of agreements signed with the private sector cannot be accepted because a large part of the toll concessions are held by the Government, directly or indirectly.

And to show how it should be done, the Selangor State Government had taken steps to make their stand on the hike through their representatives on the toll concessionaires companies (thank god, the voters in Selangor did not buy into Najib’s “we have repented” road show). So, what’s stopping the federal government from doing the same? Why they cannot propose alternatives to minimize the impact of the toll hike on the public? Why the eerie silence?

Let’s look at the other reason for the hike in toll – that the Government is unable to pay high subsidies (or compensation) to maintain low toll price. On an ideal situation, there should not be any subsidies – users pay the actual cost and any money saved from subsidies should be used for development activities that will generate economy for the country. But as I mentioned, in an ideal situation it works just fine but a different story in Malaysia if you have been keeping tab on the unsatisfied hunger & abuse for tax payers. Only in Malaysia, you can fly off a politician’s wife to private functions at the expense of tax payers and act like that nothing had happened. Just ask what had happened with all the past subsidies and compensation saved? How much of it has been “burned” on overpaid consultants? How much of it has been wasted by corrupted and careless civil servants?

It does not make sense when the consumer ends up paying more but whatever money saved ends up being abused by the very politicians who have been entrusted with the said money. There has not been much done to curtail the lavish spending by the Government. There has not been much done by the Government to curtail corruption (enforcement if any has been selective). So who is to be blamed when the Government now finds itself not having enough money.

And we have yet to comprehend the impact on other costs due to the toll hike – teh tarik and roti canai price already increased to an insane level due to increase of petrol & sugar cost (it was crazy to note that the price of my usual kopi-o kosong went up after the sugar price announcement), it is only going to be worse with the increase of electricity tariff and any other hidden increase of basic goods and services. That will take another long post, so probably let’s keep that for another time.

Merry Christmas to all…

P.s. since we are on the subject of “highway”, this is what I think the Government should do on a regular basis – haul up all drivers and send them for mandatory retesting (perhaps every 3 years). This is because there are way too many bastards out there (including bus and army truck drivers but not truck drivers) who do not know to properly overtake other vehicles on the highway. They cut into the fast lane without any indicators and once overtake, cut back dangerously in front of the car without any indicators as well. Sigh.

Dumbass Mechanic 2


Update 1: The problem finally solved! I went to my usual workshop (with proper appointment) and I did not had to wait for long. The mechanic took almost 1 hour to resolve the problem. The ECU was flashed and the brake switch was checked and reinstalled. The check engine warning light went away and it remained so. The mechanic informed me that I should not have the problem (not like the previous dumbass mechanic) but went further to say that if the problem still remained, the next course of action would be to change the entire brake switch itself.

Back to the original post…

Read the first instance here

check engine light

(The last thing I expected to see on any car is the check engine warning light and that too on a well maintained new car. But I understand that over time all things will deteriorate and breaks down. The important thing is to get it fixed on time and without much hassle. The last thing we need is a dumbass mechanic in the equation. Image source: http://www.progressiveautogroup.com)

It was almost a perfect ride up North last weekend – the morning was cold, the traffic was light and the music on the radio was good. It was a good time to “clear those carbons” from the exhaust (I noticed that the fuel consumption often improves greatly after a long journey north).

I had my grandma in the car (she followed us to go to her younger brother’s house which was on our way) so I had to ensure that I make the necessary stop for this fragile old lady who is still going strong at a very old age. Just when I was thinking of stopping at the next R&R after Tapah, I noticed something flashing up on the dashboard – something I missed earlier because I had my left hand “covering” it (I hold the top of the steering wheel with my left and the bottom with my right). The check engine warning light was on – it never appeared before and I just did a major service to the car couple weeks ago. Maintenance has been top-notch and I don’t push the car to its limits.

Certainly something was amiss here and stopping at the next R&R made a lot of sense – I was also worried that there could be a bigger problem with the engine (although I did not notice any difference in performance and the fuel consumption kept improving). We stopped and immediately my wife, my son and my grandma got out stretching their legs and then head to the toilet, leaving the baby at the back seat (she was sleeping) and under my care. I double checked on the baby and she was sleeping rather nicely. I checked on the buttons inside the car – to make sure I had not pressed any of the wrong buttons or dials. I switch off the ignition and on again but the check engine warning light was still on. Since the baby was sleeping and my wife had came back, I switched off the engine and got out of the car and did a quick check to the air-intakes – nothing out of the ordinary. I went back in and counted to ten and switch on the ignition – the check engine warning light came on for a moment and then it went off.

I thought that was the end of it until after we had reached our destination and after driving around the town, the warning light lighted up again (good thing, it was not flashing which is an indicator of a more serious problem). Unfortunately it was a Sunday and the authorised service was closed. As before, I tried to switch off and on the ignition and as before, the check engine light went off.

I decided to head to the nearest service centre near home first thing in the morning the next day. I decided to go to the one near my house instead of the one in Taiping because I already expecting to be wasting my time at the service centre for the whole day (hallmark of any car service centre in the country, I suppose). We left to KL quite early in the morning – hoping to reach the service centre near the house as early as possible. Throughout the journey back, the check engine light did not lit up and the journey was smooth and uneventful. By the time we reached home, it was already 9 in the morning. The warning light still did not lit up. So I decided to go for a quick runabout for lunch and some investment and 2 packets of cold cendol first (it was worse in Taiping). Perhaps the long run back to KL had perhaps cleared something and everything was back to normal. So I thought. With plenty of time to kill, I decided to cancel my trip to the service centre and head out for some chores in PJ. Just as I drive out from my residential area, the nagging check engine warning light was back!

Feeling frustrated, I made a U-turn and headed straight to the nearest service centre, hoping that there will be few cars on queue on the appointment. It was not. I reached there almost at 12 pm and saw the customer area full of people (some were even sleeping on the sofa – they must have come in early) – thankfully I already an early lunch. I told the sweet lady behind the counter that I did not have an appointment but I was willing to wait as long as I could get to the bottom of the nagging check engine warning light. The lady told me that there were plenty of cars to be checked for the day but she was willing to slot me in (those who came in later without any appointment was promptly turned away).

So I waited for my turn by drinking the freebie water, reading the same old magazine over and over again and of course, taking short naps on the sofa.

It was almost 4 pm when I saw the mechanic looking at the charge sheets on the wall and selected mine. I followed him to the working area as he parked my car in the working bay and hook it up to the diagnostic computer. I stood next to him and explained on what had happened but he was not listening to me. He was seriously looking at the computer screen and waited as it run through a series of tests. I gave him the benefit of the doubt – after all, he is the professional, well trained mechanic and he knows what he is doing.

All were in green until one red mark popped up – the stop light seemed to have short-circuited and need to be grounded (the stop light were still working though). He checked something in the car. He ran the test again and I noted the same error message was still displaying on the screen. He went back and checked something – I could not see what he was doing under the dashboard and then suddenly he disconnected the computer and started to drive out the car from the working area.

He did not update me on what was the problem and what has been fixed. I caught him and asked him what was the problem and has it been fixed – he with a blur face (or rather surprised face) remarked that it has been “solved”. He then drove around the car, slammed on the brakes a couple of times and then parked it. He walked to me and passed back the keys and said settled. I asked if the problem would occur again and his remarks (with the same blur face) were “maybe, if yes, bring back the car”. It was not as assuring as I wished it to be. What the fuck he meant by “maybe”? Did he and did he not fixed the problem? And why the comment “bring back the car” – as if I had nothing better to do in my life.

I didn’t trust the mechanic, not by the way he responded to me. Just to be sure, I drove around – I still had to settle some of the outstanding errands but I kept with one eye on the dashboard. The check engine warning light did not come back for rest of the day. Perhaps the mechanic did fixed the nagging problem for good. I had a good night sleep that day – at least one problem has been resolved. The next morning as I got ready to drive to work, I was suspicious but the check engine warning light remained switched off. Is everything back to normal? Unfortunately it was not – I left the workplace in the evening and barely 10 minutes into the journey back home, the check engine warning light lit again and it has been so for past few days. Switching on and off the ignition somehow solves the issue but not on long term basis – I am not sure what else is being damaged in the process.

Damn that mechanic! Now I have waste my time again to make appointment and get my car checked again at another service centre – hopefully one that has less dumbass mechanics.

Indicators & Common Sense!


(Sorry for the strong tone of the post below but seriously some people deserve it left right and centre and more)

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(How hard it is going to be to look into your mirrors, put on your indicators and when it is safe, change lane? We all learned this when we started driving but why the obvious laziness and recklessness now? Is it because you think you are driving on your grandfather’s road? That you all alone on the fucking highway and you can change lane at your whims and fancy without looking?)

Seeing idiots changing lane without indicators in this country is nothing new.

I was quite pissed off this morning of an idiot who decided to change lane just when I was about to pass him. I was sure that the idiot did not check for other vehicles in his rear mirrors before changing lane. Otherwise he would have seen me next to him and would have stopped in his tracks. And it was worse because I saw another car on the fast lane (probably “flying” at 200 km/h) in my rear mirrors and I knew that it was not possible (and dangerous) to move to the fast lane to completely avoid this idiot.

I was stuck in the middle lane with this idiot turning to my lane, no signal whatsoever, probably high on drugs called “idiocy” and me unable to move to the fast lane. There was no time and space to slow down – I horned and I high-beamed but this idiot continued to change lane (despite plenty of space on his lane). I move slightly to the fast lane but keeping enough space for the faster car to pass through. The idiot on my left probably woke up at the very last minute – he slowed down back to his lane and the idiot on my right probably missed me by inches. It was a miracle that it did not turn into a bloody mess in the morning otherwise I swear to God that I would bash up the idiot on my left to a pulp if it has been.

Unbelievable – how some people are when it comes to using their brains and doing the right thing.

Let me ask you bastards out there who rarely (or had never) use the indicator (and rear mirrors) whenever you are changing lane or turning into a junction a question. How much energy or time it takes for you fuckers to switch on the indicators? How much ah? If you think turning on your indicators is going to take a lot deal of your time and energy, you rightfully deserved to have your ass shoved with the sharp point of the indicator stick! It is not like it takes some kind of special skills to push up & down the indicator-stick (unless you are retarded in which case you should not be driving in the first place). It is not like the indicator switch is located at some hidden place that you need to spend hours looking for it. It is not like the operation of “looking into the mirror-put on the indicators-then change lane” is so complex and tedious – for God sake, it will only take a couple of seconds to do that!

And I know what you are thinking, yes I do. I am sorry to break this to you but contrary to what you have been thinking all this while, a majority of us do not have the magic skills to read one’s thought. We wish we could but unfortunately we are not mutants. We don’t have such powers. We won’t know what is your sorry piece of shit in your skull is thinking next. Perhaps it is still sleeping. Perhaps it  wants you to be bashed up for a good reason but is unclear how to go about it – if so just hang out a sign on your windows and we will be more than happy to do that to you.

And in case you are playing ignorant and arrogantly stupid, here are some basic tips when to use the indicators. Read them slooooowly and repeat reading them for a million times (perhaps more for some of you who have shit instead of human brains up there):-

  • Turning left or right
  • Negotiating roundabouts
  • Changing lanes
  • Overtaking parked vehicles
  • Overtaking cyclists
  • Joining motorway
  • Coming off motorway
  • When pulling out or moving off from parked position
  • Pulling over to stop
  • Signalling to emergency service vehicles
  • Remember to use before any braking not after as modern bright brake lights “overpower” indicators so they’re not noticed as easy (some morons uses them AFTER they had changed lane)

(Source)

It is not hard to remember this and to use them when it is appropriate (if it is, write down and paste it on your steering wheel or the windscreen or the forehead of your fellow passenger).

And whilst the Pakatan morons is fighting the implementation of AES in this county for dumbest reasons, quite number of idiots on the road are getting away with other traffic offences like not using their indicators before changing lane, using the emergency lane, not using a helmet, etc. When we are going to get some kind of enforcement system against these morons and for these offences? When we are going to pull them out from our roads and highways and send them to the gallows? Will it be challenged by the Pakatan morons too? The indicator-stick in your vehicle for a good reason.

Anyway have a good weekend and next time, please use your fucking common sense when changing lanes. Have some basic courtesy – indicate where you want to go and go where you have indicated.

Slow Down to be Safe?


(Which is better? Slowing down or enforcement of other rules like no queue jumping using the emergency lane? One of the morons that I caught on camera, abusing the emergency lane and creating more traffic jam upfront)

I am in a dilemma…

There is a family function to attend up North this week but considering the madness expected on the highways and byways in the next few days, I was wondering whether I should take the dip into the dip of madness as well. But if I don’t go the family function, well you know how it will end up when the next family function comes along. Anyway, I probably need to toss up a coin when it comes to decide the final decision.

Talking about the madness expected on Malaysian roads in the next few days, here is an interesting proposal from the Government on how they expect to lower the fatality statistics on the road:-

The reduction of the speed limit on federal and state roads by 10kph will be reintroduced during the Hari Raya period. The speed limit on federal roads has been reduced to 80kph from 90kph while state roads will now have a 70kph speed limit until Sept 6.

The speed limits on highways are not affected.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the reduction, first introduced in 2006, was aimed at reducing the number of road accidents.

(Source)

After the many bus accidents that caused the death of many Malaysians during the holidays and after many “bright ideas and proposals” by politicians who talked alot but who don’t do anything to get it enforced, the Government has now come out with this interesting “measure” to reduce the fatalities during festive season. But is simply slowing down means the roads are much safer now?

It is a fact that slowing alone does not mean you will be safe on the road. Simply because there are many other factors that contribute to fatal accidents. If one runs through this blog, you would have known some of the said incidents that I have encountered in the past few years.

Just this morning, I almost grazed another car on the fast lane when that idiot decided to change lane without putting up any indicators. And couple weeks ago, the same thing happen when a motorcyclist decided to cut in to the fast lane without any putting up any indicators or checking it was safe to cut-in in the first place. Not putting up the indicators when wanting to switch lane has been rather cancerous with Malaysian drivers. They seems to always think that fellow drivers is able to anticipate their every move and will simply give way when they suddenly cut in onto the path of on-coming car. It gets worse during bad weather – some idiots even do not switch on their headlights, making it a guessing game to accurately judge their distance (some idiots on motorcycle even do not have rear lights on a good day).

And what about the idiots that hog the fast lane, denying others who are faster than them to safely overtake them? How many of us who may have urgent matters to attend to, have encountered such idiots who seems to be enjoying a “leisure Sunday drive” on a Monday morning at peak hours on the fast lane? Don’t you feel like giving these idiots one hard slap on their face? Denied of the space to overtake, how many of us been forced to overtake these idiots from the left, sometimes dangerously whilst at the same time feeling angry and impatient – a feeling that lingers long after we have safely overtaken this idiot and arrived at our destination.

Then we have the famed idiots who at the slightest view of a traffic jam, cut over to the emergency lane and selfishly and arrogantly cutting queue. Where do we place these idiots in the aspect of ensuring that our roads are safer for rest of us? Traffic jams, sometimes also attributed to some slow road hoggers, is part and parcel of driving. It gets worse during the holidays for obvious reasons – too many cars on the road. You need to be patient and bid your time before continuing on to the destination. Everyone wants to reach their final destination as safe as and as fast as possible. Why should we give in to some idiots who simply don’t have the patience and is very selfish and arrogant? These idiots who quickly turn the emergency lane into their private lane to bypass other law abiding road users and by cutting in at the front (due to a broken down car or police block) causing traffic jam to be even worse.

There is a reason why an accident is known as “accident”. An accident is a specific, unpredictable, unusual and unintended external action which occurs in a particular time and place, with no apparent and deliberate cause but with marked effects (Source). It is “unpredictable, unusual and unintended” – no doubt about that since if someone causes an accident intentionally (by knowingly breaking the traffic rules) and it causes someone to die, then it is not known as accident, it is known as murder or in some cases, manslaughter.

TheStar reported that for past 1 week, 117 deaths have been recorded – with no surprise, 60% of them being motorcyclists (perhaps it is how God plays his card in reducing morons on the road). I am pretty sure a good number of them did not have their helmets on. The call to reduce speed limit is good but it is only effective when enforcement of other traffic rules and ensuring that the punishment for “those stubborn ones” to be severe enough that they will not break the rules again.

So, you want to be safe? Don’t only slow down (to the correct speed!) but also keep to the correct lane and cut into the fast lane only when want to overtake others and do so when it is safe to do so. Use the indicators as part and parcel of driving and use it all the time. And never abuse the emergency lane – you never know when you will be involved in a serious accident with your loved one pinned down under the wreck and your life-saver, ambulance is stuck behind your fellow emergency lane abusers.

Selamat Hari Raya and happy holidays…

Unnecessary Provocations


Perhaps it was the one of the ways God test our patience…

(The “usual” queues at the toll plaza – the traffic moves faster if everyone queues up and wait for their turn. Imagine what happens if one idiot decides to drive between the proper queues and tries to cut in. Before you know it, another line had formed in between the 2 original lines and the traffic comes to a crawl. Image source: http://www.mobshare.in)

One of my “targets’ for this year is to keep my cool on the road – unfortunately, it was easier said than done.

I had to leave office early one day last week – I had to take my HEO to the clinic – and I know immediately that my journey back home would not be so stress-free. I know that the traffic jam would be insane and there would be plenty of motorists out there who don’t give a damn on traffic laws, simple courtesy or a sense of common sense and whether they were inconvenience to others and cared if they have caused the traffic jam even worse.

The traffic towards to the toll plaza was not so bad – there was easily identified queues formed at the toll plaza although it is high time for the toll operator to put up traffic cones to control the queue jumpers. I just needed to pick my line and patiently wait for my turn. Things was not so bad – the line was still moving albeit slowly. There were queue jumpers (as usual) but thankfully it did not happen to my lane. The queue jumpers has just made the other lane worse and brought it to a crawl and they are now itching to shift to the lane that did not have any queue jumpers and still moving.

It was still early in the evening as I paid the stressful looking lady at the toll booth and queued up on the lane that was merging with another lane which itself was merging with another at the front. Respectfully, the merging point was done quiet orderly – each lane took their turn to join and kept the lane moving on an orderly pace.

Not the idiot in a white Myvi at the back of my lane – she saw the small gap between the 2 lanes and suddenly pulled out to overtake the rest. She did not got far as the two lanes was quiet close to each other and there was no room to cut in further but by her idiotic act (she only managed to overtake 2 cars) she managed to slowed the 2 lanes down and for a moment, there was standstill (with domino effect to the traffic jam at the back).

Other drivers took a long look at this driver – we did not know what she intended to achieve with the queue jumping stunt in that small area. You tell me, how to keep cool when you are facing drivers like this – nothing much achieved but only to irritate others and make the traffic jam even worse. Despite the stares that this idiot was getting from the other drivers, this idiot was only interested in queue jumping again. Upfront she did it again.

I am pretty much lost with the logic – perhaps this driver was hoping to queue jump 1 – 2 drivers all the way, she could hope to jump ahead of the whole insane traffic jam. Ya, if I was that selfish driver, it would make sense. Who cares about others as long as I could get home probably 5 minutes earlier, right? 5 minutes earlier for this selfish idiot but half an hour for the rest who follow the rules? Yes, life is unfair but it does not mean the guilty one should be left to enjoy the fruit of their “crime”.

The good thing was that although the journey home remained challenging but it was not as bad as the situation at the toll plaza. There was less “provocations” at this part of the road.