AES: Asking the Right Questions


UPDATE 1: Read FAQ from JPJ on AES here

Back to the original post

Oh dear, another opposition politician jumping to defence the criminals on the road…

(It’s about time – a simple flow on how the Automated Enforcement System works. It covers speeding & beating the red light offenses but what about other types of offenses like road hogging, cutting in and out of traffic without any proper indication, riding around without wearing any helmet? When we can have a similar automated enforcement system for it? Image source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com / TheStar)

The Barisan Nasional Government in awarding the Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) Project to Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd and ATES Sdn Bhd whereby the two private companies in return for installing cameras in 831 locations will be entitled to a share of fines, of which fines for unpaid traffic summonses for 2000 to 2009 amounted to RM5.8 billion, has created a situation where there is a conflict of interest amounting to gross derogation of the Government’s duty to promote road safety.

Under the business model the companies will receive a share of the fines on three levels. At the first level each of the companies firstly will receive RM16.00 for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses issued, for summons issued after 5 million the companies receive as the second level payment 50% of the balance of the summonses up to RM270 million per year and after RM270 million they receive further payments at the third level of 7.5% of the balance of the summonses. The companies’ internal projection is that they will achieve an internal rate of return of 17% based on 10 million summonses issued each year.

Revenue tied to summonses issued

By reason of revenue being tied to the number of summonses issued, the business model for the two companies and Ministry of Transport will depend on ensuring that the number of speeding violations must not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly.

The Government in turning the issuance of traffic summonses into a business for the maximization of profits has derogated from its duty to promote road safety. This is because if motorists keep to the speed limits these two companies will not be able to make any profits. Since business profits are contingent on a minimum number of traffic summonses being issued this model is incompatible with any programme to promote road safety and reduce speeding. There is thus a serious flaw in this AES Project.

Don’t maximise profits from summonses

The Ministry of Transport should not be looking to traffic summons as a profit center. The Ministry of Transport should be looking towards a study whether the speed limits are too low in the light of modern highway design. The ministry should be looking at ways to reduce speeding and road accidents.

An example is the police programme such as Ops Sikap. Road safety is improved by the physical presence of the police where a friendly warning not to speed is more effective than an injudicious mechanical taking of pictures by hidden cameras. Not all speeding is wrong. The police has on many occasions assisted motorists by acting as outriders for drivers rushing someone to the emergency ward of a hospital. The automatic cameras in the AES when implemented not only cannot assist but will issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property.

Money-making frenzy

This privatization of traffic summonses is an example of the Barisan Nasional Government having lost sight of its duties to the people in their feeding frenzy to make money out of every conceivable aspect of government.

I ask the Prime Minister to review this AES Project because road safety cannot be compromised and should not be turned into a business venture.

In a related matter, Dr Chua Soi Lek in his capacity as President of MCA has denied that Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd or ATES Sdn Bhd is linked to MCA. However, this project was mooted and implemented under the watch of three Ministers of Transport, all of whom are from the MCA.

I ask Dr Chua and Dato Sri Kong Cho Har, the present Minister of Transport to disclose the date this AES Project was awarded and whether the directors or shareholders of these two companies are known to the Minister or Ministers concerned.

William Leong Jee Keen is the PKR Member of Parliament for Selayang

(Source)

Leong may be harping on the wrong tree but before we analyze what Leong is saying, let’s get some facts right.

Firstly, no amount of sweet talk and soft approach will ever change the way Malaysians behave themselves on the road. Some will remain hard-core bastards to the end and they will only change once you whack them hard with a thick cane. You don’t have to go far to see these bastards in action – just count how motorcyclists riding around in your neighborhood without wearing any helmets. Strict enforcement of the law is the only way to ensure less traffic offenses committed on Malaysian roads.

Secondly, we lack an effective mean of enforcing the traffic laws. Yes, we have the police but then again, as we have seen in Ops Sikap year in, year out, we cannot expect the policemen to be around everywhere all the time and the moment the eyes of the law is nowhere to be seen, this is when the traffic laws gets abused. And it has been abused on a regular basis for some time now.

Automated Enforcement System (“AES”) should resolve this shortcoming in many ways. And there are another benefits too – by outsourcing the enforcement system on traffic offenses and verification to issue summons to private companies, the police would be freed up to do other more critical policing work. It may save them some infrastructure and logistics costs too.

Leong is contending that because the revenue of the private companies is tied to the number of summonses issued, the number of speeding violations need to be maintained not be less than 10 million each year and if they are to increase their profits and growth over the years the number of speeding violations must by necessity be increased accordingly. In other words, he implies that the number of speeding violations will be increased arbitrarily just to ensure profitability of the private companies remain unchanged and because of this, the focus of AES has gone awry. He also claims shortcomings of the AES (even before it is implemented) – that AES when implemented issue summonses to every ambulance and fire engine rushing to save lives and property. Really?

Yes, it is possible to some extent but then again, we should look at it from another point of view.

By tying the revenue of the two companies handling the camera installation to the number of summonses issued, aren’t we just ensuring effectiveness of the AES since a defective installation and poor traffic offense verification will mean less summons issued and this in turn translates to lower revenues? And by entitling a share of the fines in return for installing cameras, doesn’t this mean that the Government can opt to forgo using taxpayers funds for the installation of the cameras since these payments will now come directly from the traffic offenders?

On the onset, it does look like a win-win situation. So, instead of making general statement that the BN is out to make a profit from traffic summons and the wasteful plea to look at soft ways to reduce speeding and road accidents (Leong is really wasting his time here), Leong should be asking these questions:-

1. What is the scope of work? Will it be just installation? Or does that also include maintenance, summons and payment processing and other services as well? Are there any hidden commissions involved and we are getting the best price in the open market for that given scope of work?

2. What is the strength of the two private companies in installing the cameras for AES? It does not matter if they are directly or indirectly linked to BN but we need to know if they are competent enough to handle the enforcement system or are they going to outsource or sub-contract the work to another company and enjoy the free ride in return? What is their expertise in handling the enforcement system? What is their track record? How they were selected in the first place? Was it through an open tender or based on some kind of strict evaluation?

3. What is the detail of the payment structure? For summons issued but not collected, where the Government intends to get the funds to pay the companies the first 50%? Note that RM16.00 is to be paid for each traffic summons for the first 5 million summonses and this itself works out to RM80 million.

4. Assuming the installation cost (and surely maintenance cost) has been worked out, for how long we allow the two companies to take a share of the fines when it should be passed to the Government as an alternative source of income?

5. What is the term of the “concessionaire contract”? Has the terms of the contract been vetted through strictly to avoid the recurrence of the lopsided terms that now haunts toll concessionaire contracts? Is there any term that will allow the Government to restructure the payment terms in the future? Is there any penalty clauses incorporated to ensure that the private companies does not short-change the Government on the quality of camera installed and workmanship of the camera installation?

6. What if the projection of the summons issued (to meet the installation & maintenance cost) falls short in the coming months? What if by some miracle, Malaysians decided to behave themselves on the road and the number of summons issued drops drastically? Since the revenue of the companies is tied to number of summons, are we going to subsidize the companies for their “losses”?

7. What are assurances that the traffic users sensitive information is safe-guarded from any unauthorized party?

These are some of the questions that Leong should have asked in the first place. And wrongly branding the collection traffic summons to profit frenzy is not the right direction that we suppose to head when it comes to dealing with stubborn traffic offenders and when we are serious about reducing the fatalities on the road.

Yes, we are aware that privatization and outsourcing in the country at times riddled with cronyism, monopoly, abuse of public funds and lopsided agreements but that should not stop us from seeing the bigger picture which is to enforce the traffic law and reduce road fatalities in this country. We desperately need the automated enforcement system and we need it to implemented it to be highly efficient, strict and without any favors to the stubborn traffic offenders on the road. Let’s start with the right objective and questions in mind.

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Pesky Motorcyclists Part 2


Read Part 1 here

essential-motorcycle-gear_5180e6ad79220_w1500

(As I said it before, it does not matter if you are riding a 50cc bike or a 1500 cc bike. When you fall, your head and your skin suffers the same. No matter what you ride, proper riding attire is a must. Image source: http://www.ridesafebacksafe.co.uk)

In case you missed, this was in the news a couple days ago:-

About RM9bil, or two percent of the Gross Domestic Product of RM528bil in 2010, is lost annually from accidents.

Kong said, based on police statistics, the death rate among motorists and passengers from January to September this year had dropped 4.2 percent compared to last year.

“For pedestrians, it dropped by 14.6 percent, bus drivers and passengers, five percent, while for van drivers and passengers, 24.1 percent,” he said.

However, he said the death rate for the motorcyclist and pillion rider category had gone up by 5.4 percent.

(Source)

Surprisingly on the same day when this was on the news, I almost hit an old aunty on a motorcycle. She was on my left at a junction and when the lights turned green, she swiftly cut in front of me and before I shouted “….toot….” (Fill in the blanks for any vulgar words), she made an illegal u-turn (causing the cars on the other lane to slam on their brakes) and disappeared. If I have not been too distracted by my son tweaking on the song selection on the car mp3 player, things would have been much different for this old aunty and my car (and it being a rural area, it would have very likely the blame for the accident would have fallen on me and that is the last thing I want after this happened).

(Since 1985, fatalities has been on the rise and it seems we are at lost on what we can do to bring the numbers down. Source: MIROS)

(No doubt, we can easily blame the rising fatalities on the rising number of motorcycles registered but have we seriously looked on whether we have lacked in some areas like enforcement and training?. Source: MIROS)

In 2010, statistics show that whilst death rate has fallen for all other categories, it has increased when it comes to motorcyclist and pillion rider and it is not a big surprise. In the same year about 4,067 motorcyclists died and this alone represented more than 60% of the 6,745 road fatalities (based on statistics provided by MIROS)

Lack of enforcement (classic incident like this where no action taken despite breaking of 2 laws), non-existence for the need to review road tax or some form of periodic check (missed opportunity to blacklist repeated offenders) and cheap cost of motorcycles (which made it easy for anyone to purchase them) and it being small and easy for these motorcyclists to weave in and out of traffic (at times with blatant disregard for rules and need to have proper gap between them and other traffic) and of course making illegal u-turns whenever they deem fit. And there is always the eye-sore of seeing young idiots riding around in residential areas without helmets.

So, seeing the jump in deaths of motorcyclist and pillion riders in 2010 is not a big surprise – expect the same in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and beyond unless we get down hard and wrestle this persisting problem by its horn.

There are a couple things that the Government should seriously look into if they are indeed serious in getting the number of deaths for of motorcyclist and pillion riders to start falling in the coming years. These includes:-

1. Stringent enforcement – no “ifs”, no “buts”, no “we will study first” – when the police see any idiots riding around without helmet or valid license or riding against the traffic, they should be stopped and the motorcycle confiscated or held up until a hefty fine is paid. No more sweet talks, no more pat on the shoulder and say “next time”. There must a real fear that if one breaks the law; the long arm of the law is going to get them one way or another. If, as the usual maybe, the offenders ride away before they can be stopped, the motorcycle registration number need to be noted down so that it can be traced.

2. More undercover patrols in well known “lawless” areas should be increased. If these offenders do not know when and how they are going to be stopped, there is high chance that they will be more careful not to break any traffic rules. More undercover patrols also mean more frequent enforcement. To some extend “Automated Enforcement System” will be helpful in remote enforcement but there is still a large area where AES may not be able to cover. Thus undercover patrols would be useful to bridge the gap in areas where AES may be lacking.

3. Whilst it will be difficult to incorporate motorbike lanes on the older roads and smaller trunk roads, the Government should look into modifying and expanding the emergency lanes for motorcyclist use (of course this means other road users cannot abuse emergency lanes) and ensure that they stick to these lanes – away from the heavier traffic where these motorcyclists often ends up as a menace or be endangered by other heavier and faster traffic. With dedicated motorbike lanes, it will be safer for motorcyclists as well. At the same time, the existing motorbike lanes (like the one along the Federal Highway) need to be widened and improved so that more motorcyclists would be encouraged to use them more often.

4. Training for motorcyclists should be revisited with more emphasis on observation of traffic rules and safety instead of skills only. And to ensure that motorcyclists are kept trained and reminded of traffic rules and safety aspect of riding a motorcycle, make the motorcycle license subject to bi-yearly renewal – riders must pass riding test before they are allowed to continue motorcycles. This way, whoever failed to pass their riding exams, will not be able to ride motorcycle whilst at the same time, ensuring that one is competent enough to handle a motorcycle on public roads. Size and price of motorcycles should not be used as an excuse to take things lightly – it deserves the same due care and expertise as one who operates a heavy machinery.

5. Training for other road users on motorcyclists. Whilst we are on the subject of training – there is little in the current training syllabus for other road users on how to react and respond to motorcyclists when they are sharing the same road. At times, there is little room for the motorcyclists to have enough room to ride safely on the road. And this is compounded by the fact that there is no dedicated motorcycle lanes in most part of the country. Realistically most of the other road users see motorcyclists as invading their space on the road and fail to provide the necessary gap for these motorcyclists. Some changes lanes without providing proper signals, failing to understand that motorcyclists (due to lack of motorbike lanes) rides between the existing 2 lanes.

6. Make proper riding safety attire mandatory. In Malaysia, there is no need for motorcyclists to ride motorcycles with proper safety attire – all is required from them is to wear a flimsy helmet (and not all are SIRIM approved) and nothing more. Make them mandatory – wear proper gloves, leather jacket and proper riding boots and these are things that make a big difference when you are involved in an accident.

One may say that the Government already facing problems to even get these motorcyclists to wear their helmets, what more of other part of the attire. But if you think about it, is it laughable that despite the increase in number of deaths, we have not really tighten the loopholes in enforcement and training – we must start off in the right footing and follow up with the right enforcement and in time, it will not be so difficult to get proper attire to be the norm

It is a fact that motorcycle is cheap and is a very convenient way to move around – I know, I rode motorcycle to work for a good number of years – I rode a kapchai for years but although it was a very small bike (if compared to those big superbikes that one sees on the highway), I have learned over time that personal safety should never be comprised – good helmet, tear proof motorbike jacket and leather gloves and in the same flow, abide traffic rules and safety. And I don’t see why these simple steps cannot be strongly promoted with the backing of relevant laws and strict enforcement.

RM9 billion loss is not small amount – it is affects the nation in many ways too. Can we for once wake up and start looking into this national problem and start pushing the numbers down?

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Ops Sikap: Attitude vs Enforcement


UPDATE: Good to hear that the police is going all out for those who is speeding on the roads. Hopefully they will find better ways to crack down pesky motorcyclists and enforce the law on those who change lane without putting on the indicators, abuse the emergency lane, hog the roads, etc

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(Caught this video back in 2008 of those who abuse the emergency lane – nothing have changed in 2011. Will we see change of attitude in 2012?)

Read Part 1 & Part 2 first

I thought of replying it under the comment box but looking at the length of my reply, I might as well put it as a reply post:-

Hi Visithra

Thanks for your comments – it is heartening to know that the authorities do take the enforcement serious

I think everyone (me, you, the authorities, etc) do agree on one thing – there is a serious attitude problem with fellow Malaysians when they are on the road (it is the same in every other country as well). I have been saying the same thing too. And I am not saying that that the authorities are not enforcing the law at all but the problem is that they are not doing enough to enforce the law (I will come to the part of “what the solution, then” shortly).

In relation to attitude problem, you ask “why can’t we change?” Good question there but unfortunately there are certain things you can do to call people to change their attitude when they are on the road – organising safety talks, campaigns on mainstream media and public areas, compilation of statistics, etc but it will come to a point where these “soft approach” had done its part. If nothing much changed positively (as evident from Ops Sikap 24 statistics and your comments that no matter what you tell them they go back to doing the same thing), it is high time for the Government to take stronger measures.

It is up to you to advocate the continuation of the soft approach – participate in road safety campaign, give out free helmets (which probably ends up on the motorcycle basket rather than on their head), etc and hopefully one day these road users will see the light at the end of the tunnel and change their attitude.

But seriously, don’t you think that the Government have been doing that for donkey odd years? It may have moved a small percentage of them but a bulk of them seemed to have remained stubborn and unmoved. If this soft approach has been effective, wouldn’t it have worked – even if number of vehicles on the road sky-rocketed? That is my point preciously. Let’s have a look at the statistics (you can “google” them for the sources):-

Deaths in Ops Sikap 21 = 241
Deaths in Ops Sikap 22 = 218
Deaths in Ops Sikap 23 = 199
Deaths in Ops Sikap 24 = 289

Summons issued in Ops Sikap 23 = 167,868
Summons issued in Ops Sikap 24 = 133,808

After the end of Ops Sikap 24 which saw a huge increase of fatality (if number of cars to be blamed, shouldn’t deaths in Ops Sikap 21 – 23 be increasing as well?), it is obvious that they need to relook into these soft approaches and revamp the whole strategy. It is ok if those with serious attitude problems go and kill themselves in road accidents but it does not happen that way – it affect others as well directly or indirectly. It impacts the family, other innocent road users (who were at the wrong place and at the wrong time), and the country as whole.

Just a couple days ago, I witnessed a bus with full load of passengers streaming down the highway at more than 120 km/h weaving in and out of the fast lane – it must be someone’s lucky star that it did not hit anyone and end up killing someone on the road. So how we are going to prevent a repeat this incident? Send all bus drivers to road safety seminar and hope that they will drive safer the next day? Given the fact that bus drivers are driven by the economics of trips per month, I have my doubts that soft approach will cause bus drivers to be slower on the roads. What else can be done?

Let’s say the authorities are indeed serious in enforcing the law but having a problem of unable to be everywhere at the same time – the question is what they are doing about it?

In my last post, I talked about the need for road safety operations to be conducted all around the year (road safety operations here does not means road safety seminars in some posh hotels). And I made my share of the noise when they canceled the plans to increase the fine to RM1,000 – that should have been introduced for hardcore road offenders. Then there were talks of “Automated Enforcement System” at certain hot-spots – are they widening the scope of enforcement? What about those traffic cameras that snaps the photos of those who jump the red light? Surprisingly I don’t see them anymore in most of traffic lights where jumping the red light is a norm.

Most fatalities happened on federal and smaller roads and here, it would be harder to monitor but that does not mean the traffic laws cannot be enforced especially when seeing a motorcyclist on public roads without any helmet. Of course, there will be issue of manpower and resources but the starting cost for these can easily off-set from the summons collected from the traffic offenders and relocation of resources from other areas (as how it is done in battling other crimes with more policemen deployed on the streets).

On my part, whenever possible, I snapshot of those abuse the traffic laws (in particular the emergency lane) and sent them to JPJ for their further action for I believe call for attitude change is a waste of time. If the authorities provide some good incentive for people to be their eyes and ears in catching the road offenders in their act, I am pretty sure that there will be more people helping the authorities and the level of enforcement would be more effective.

These are just some of actions that the government agencies involved in reducing the number of fatalities could do. Such measures are NOT new and I am sure, is not something that they have not thought about. So, what’s stopping them from enforcing it?

I am not saying that we should stop the soft approach completely – there are still new, inexperience drivers coming on board every year. Who knows, it may do good for some of them especially when it is done from school level and up. However, given the fact that the statistics of Ops Sikap 24 which saw higher fatalities compared to Ops Sikap 23, 22, 21, the authorities should also relook into the aspect of enforcement – PDRM & JPJ in particular (leave JKJR to focus on the soft approach). And they need to do this before start of Ops Sikap 25.

Thank you

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too 2


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

Oh dear, is it another “brilliant” conclusion that I see on the horizon?

(What we need more stringent enforcement instead of just enforcement – it is high time the police get tough with hardcore traffic law abusers. Image source: http://lagunamerbok.blogspot.com)

Read this first

I guess it does not take an extensive post mortem to come to this conclusion:-

An increase in the number of vehicles on roads throughout the country has been identified as the main reason for the failure of Ops Sikap 24 to reduce accidents and fatalities during the festive season from Aug 23 to Sept 6.

Kuala Lumpur Traffic Chief ACP Rusli Mohd Noor said apart from the attitude or behaviour of motorists, an increase in the volume of traffic had contributed to an increase in the number of accidents and fatalities

(Source)

What a revelation!

So, can we say that Ops Sikap will be highly successful if everyone keep their vehicle at home and start walking back to their home town?

The increase in the volume of traffic no doubt would contribute to the increase of accidents and fatalities – that is called the law of probability – the more cars you have on the road, chances of accident would be higher. That is not rocket science by any measure. With increase of population and ease of purchasing new vehicles in the coming years, the volume of traffic is likely to keep increasing. Is this means Ops Sikap in the coming years will fail too? Based on the conclusion that the police have brilliantly deducted on the reasons for the high fatality, that seems to be the case (unless a miracle happens – those idiots on the road change their attitude overnight)

Thus, the reason – “increase in the volume of traffic” does not hold water as to why there was more fatality this year. Just take a look at what the newspapers reported last week:-

An express bus travelling at 130km/h, a container lorry at 125km/h, a Mercedes Benz at 220km/h, a BMW at 240km/h, a Honda Accord at 190km/h and a Perodua Myvi at 180km/h. These were the astonishing speed of vehicles captured by the traffic police’s speed detection cameras on Malaysian expressways recently. No wonder the death toll in each Ops Sikap keeps increasing and show no signs of coming down.

(Source)

It is obvious that Ops Sikap failed not because there are more vehicles on the road. It failed because there was a lack of enforcement. When it comes to safety on the road, it starts with the right attitude and behavior but when that fails, then tough enforcement of the law must swiftly come in. And this is where it failed in the recent Ops Sikap 24.

Instead of blaming volume of traffic and attitude, this is what the authorities should do. The authorities should launch a major operation that runs not during holidays but throughout all year long and on highways, federal roads and all streets to enforce the law on all forms of abuse of traffic rules. For those stubborn criminals on the road, they should take one step by banning these idiots on the roads from being able to use any vehicles on the road. And they should do with without any favor or fear and then you will start to see the reduction of fatality on the road. And yes, bring back the need to slap the stubborn and regular law breakers with a higher fine (remember the idea of increasing the fine to RM1,000 which was dropped after some criminal-loving politicians made noise?).

So, do you still want to say that it is not right to point fingers at the authorities for the failure of Ops Sikap 24? The abuse of traffic rules happens because those drivers know that they can get away with it and even if they are caught, the punishment at the end of the day seems trivial. It is high time this changes.

Will we finally see a difference in Ops Sikap 25?

Ops Sikap: Authorities Should Be Blamed Too


Update: I guess it is unfair to point the fingers at the police alone although they do handle the bulk of the enforcement since there are other agencies involved namely JPJ who handle licensing & training and JKJR who handle the overall coordination and road safety related activities

Back to the original post

(It looks like a plague, idiots on the road without helmet creating nuisance and endangering others – the worse ones even have young kids on the motorcycle. Image source: http://drhanie.blogspot.com/)

This was not a big surprise:-

The number of road accidents and deaths recorded under Ops Sikap 24 during the Hari Raya season was the highest since the operation was launched a decade ago.

A total of 289 people died in 19,606 road accidents during the 15-day operation which ended on Tuesday. Motorcyclists and pillion riders made up 179 or 62% of the fatalities.

There was an 18% jump in fatalities compared to 244 during last Hari Raya and a 16.5% rise in the number of accidents compared to 16,817 last year.

According to police who issued 133,808 summonses for various traffic offences during the operation, more accidents occurred on federal roads than on highways.

(Source)

Let me tell you about my experience when I was in the vicinity of the “lawless” Kampung Medan last week – it was a holiday, so we decided to visit someone here.

I was driving along the main road near Taman Sri Manja around lunch time – traffic was not so bad (due to the holidays) but I noticed something rather common on these roads – there are more motorcyclists riding rather dangerously (and oblivion to on-coming traffic) without helmets than those with helmets on. A large number of these motorcyclists, who been riding around without any helmets, are young. I am pretty sure a number of them are riding their father’s or uncle’s motorcycle possibly without any license or consent too (you still remember this idiot who was shot dead by the police last year?).

I encountered one idiot on the road – a lady with her brand new Hari Raya Baju Kurung with a lady friend as her pillion rider, both not wearing any helmet and busy chit-chatting while riding in the middle of the road, causing a mini traffic jam at the back. Such idiots without helmets whilst on the main road were not the first I encountered along the road. There were many more. Damn, what these idiots are thinking? That they are riding on some back lane in some remote village? That their soft skull is strong enough to withstand a strong impact on the hard pavement? That nothing will happen to them when they fall under wheels of a car?

I then exited the main street and cut into a smaller lane where I saw at the front, another motorcyclist, once again without helmet, weaving in an out of the two lanes. Even as I neared him, he was rather ignorant of the traffic around him and continued to weave in and out. Despite knowing all too well, I did something that often irked similar idiots on the road – I pressed my horns long and hard. It did the job – the idiot quickly moved over and I was able to overtake him safely. As I passing him, I saw him – another young kid (probably in Form 1 or 2) – no helmets, wearing a simple T-shirt and a short pants, flip-flops. He looked back at me, looking rather annoyed that his weaving in and out on public roads has been short-lived.

After I overtook him, I noticed him speeding up to catch up with me (being in the vicinity of Kampung Medan, I was expecting for a gang fight on the street). He overtook me and sped up and then continued with the weaving in and out of the two lanes. But because he was a bit far from my car (and thus no risk of an accident), I decided to let go this idiot to continue with his folly, postponing the “inevitable” for another day.

Now, let’s come back to the statistics of the recent Ops Sikap 24 – the police say that 62% of the fatalities are motorcyclists and there are more fatal accidents on federal roads (the vicinity of Kampung Medan counts as a federal road) than on highways. So, who is to be blamed?

The IGP says that “the main factor which leads to such mishaps is attitude”. I agree that at the end of the day, attitude is the main (if not, the only) consideration when it comes to road safety. Surely if those idiots that I encountered last week had a better attitude, they would have been wearing helmets and abide to the road courtesy and traffic rules. However, there are only certain things you can do to call for a change of attitude before you decide that enough is enough and it is time to take out the thick cane and give one hard on their buttocks.

Seeing idiots on motorcycle without helmet is nothing new especially when it comes to lawless areas like Kampung Medan. But the question is what the authorities are doing about it? I am very certain that if the authorities launches a major operation in this area and nab a couple or two idiots by their neck and confiscate their motorcycles for good, there will be more idiots ending up “seeing the light” and will start wearing helmets and hopefully abide to traffic rules.

The point here is enforcement of traffic rules. We already know that these idiots have attitude problems and despite reminders, safety campaign and strong threats, nothing moved them. Are we just going to resign by saying that “I am saddened by what has happened” and hope for a miracle (that will never come) to happen in the next Ops Sikap 25? I am sure the authorities are much better than that!

It is not enough that we give out summons for a few that was caught in the “net” and even this, does not guarantee that these buggers will not repeat the abuse of traffic rules (remember when things was that bad that the Government even offered some discounts on the summons?). And are we going to only put extra care during the holidays and when we have “Ops Sikap”s? Certainly not!

So, stop pleading for a change of attitude and start enforcing the law. And start with places where the traffic rules are treated worse than dirt. After all, the Government and by extension, the authorities have been “talking” about it since 2005! We do not want the number of fatalities to remain high especially when it involves other law abiding road users.

I say enough of empty talks…it is high time to take out the thick cane. Otherwise, one need to admit that the authorities is also contributing to the statistics.

Open Letter to Datuk Suret Singh


(My usual rant of the irresponsible road users that I have encountered after coming back from a long holiday, so please bear with me)

(The face behind many road safety campaign – Datuk Suret Singh of Road Safety Department. Image source: http://protonexoraclub.blogspot.com)

Dear YB Datuk

I was not sure at first, who I should address this letter to since whenever we have major accidents on the road; too many people in high position open their mouth and want to be the champion for road safety in the country. There will be calls for stricter enforcement, others, to review the condition of the roads and vehicles but soon enough, such calls would die down and it will be back to business until the next tragedy.

Last week, I had a friend from overseas over at my house and we caught you in the news, making spot checks on express buses  – you looked unhappy and seemed to be pissed off with the conditions of the buses. My friend upon seeing you told me that you looked tough, just the right person to check on whether traffic laws are followed. So, I guess, you would be the right person for me to bring up this.

In the past few months, you have been in the limelight when it comes to improving the safety of users on the road. Early this year, you even said that drivers who stop their vehicles to gawk at accident scenes can be issued summonses and there were many of us, applauded such calls. It was high time; the enforcement part of the law is strongly enforced on road offenders.

But before I proceed further, it will good if you could take a look at the below video and couple of photos (I have more in my collection, all of which, will promptly be handed over to JPJ for their action in due course).

Have you ever seen an express bus that is not only speeding above the speed limit but also using the emergency lane rather dangerously? No? Yes? All the time? Here’s one for the record – BLB 6396.

You tell me if this is how things are handled despite the recent horrific 28 deaths and during on-going Ops Sikap (which incidentally means Operation Attitude), how do you expect to reduce accidents involving public buses? Why bother having undercover JPJ enforcement agents riding along the bus? When you have speed demons who not only endangering their life with such reckless act but also of their passengers, it will not be a big surprise to see another 28 bodies lies on the tarmac.

And to show how blatant and irresponsible people are in place of lack of enforcement, just count the number of vehicles (including one from another country) abusing the emergency lane? Where is the enforcement of the highway laws? And the video here only shows a small portion of the highway where emergency lane ended up as the “fast lane” where one probably would wonder when PLUS opened a new lane.

And Datuk, considering the field that you are in, you would understand why I have been highlighting about these emergency lane offenders every time I came back from the holidays. Others may wonder why I take the trouble highlighting these “criminals” in emails, blogs, video blogs, etc. It is not like I am getting paid for it or getting some discounts or getting a kick for fun.

And I am pretty sure these offenders would have their day to answer for their inconsiderate act of “troubling” others and putting others in danger. It is rather easy to ignore the traffic that had formed on the emergency lane and just concentrate on the road ahead; hoping that the traffic jam that had formed without notice would just go away and one can be on their way without further delay, apprehension and waste of time and fuel.

I would have done the same if not for this:-

You see, in a 2 lane highway that passes by numerous exits and entries, a 3rd improvised lane is bound to create bottle necks at some point when those who using the new lane have to cut over and return back to the proper lane (often due to police block or broken down vehicle and not because they feeling guilty about it). And there is where the problem starts for other road users. who been patiently been treading the legal lanes.

The idiots (sorry to use this word but I am sure you will share our frustrations) at the emergency lane cut into the slow lane which causes the traffic on the slow lane to slow down even further. And when the slow lane becomes slow, some of us have to contend with moving into the fast lane which ends up as another slow lane.

Ok, never mind us – we still have the legal lane to contend to but what about the people who really need to use the emergency lane. With these traffic offenders speeding through the emergency lane at speeds exceeding 100 km/h, it has become too dangerous for anyone with a broken down vehicle to even park at the emergency lanes. Just imagine the scenario – you hear a weird sound from your car and the sound seems to get only louder. You decided that it is not safe to continue to drive, so you pull over and stop at the emergency lane. You walk behind the car to inspect on something and you suddenly hear a screeching noise and before you know it, a car slams you and pin you between the two cars.

And of course, I don’t need to highlight the use of the emergency lane for the fire & rescue and ambulance service when there is major accident on the highway. Just imagine the precious minutes wasted stuck behind these idiots who clog up the emergency lane for their own personal abuse. If someone dies due to delay of rescue vehicles, will these emergency lane offenders be charged with manslaughter?

So Datuk, as you can see, there is no point educating the general public on traffic rules – you only going to get traffic rules broken on a regular basis. There is no point making the necessary research on how to make the roads and vehicles safer. You are only going to waste time and money and given the conditions of the roads and vehicles in Malaysia, they are already above the condition of some countries with lower fatality rate than Malaysia.

The only way to ensure road users abide by the rules is to improve on the enforcement of the rules. As I watched the many traffic rules offenders abusing the emergency lane as I was traveling back, my only regret is that there was no enforcement officers on sight. There was no road blocks, there was no traffic policemen chasing and booking these traffic offenders – too bad, we could have made the killing in summons. There was nothing to stop the abuse. Perhaps summons have became too cheap for these frequent, hardcore traffic offenders. Perhaps getting home early was more important than being considerate and safe on the road.

Datuk, I am pretty sure you will share my concern here and I hope in the course of heading the Road Safety Department to be more efficient, you would look deeply into the area of enforcement and ways to tighten the loopholes. Change of attitude can also happen due to the thick, long stroke of the cane.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

(A frustrated highway user)