In the Year of the Monkey


Frankly speaking, I had Part 2 in mind (had half way drafted the content) but over time, the passion for one subject fades away and another subject grabs of one’s attention.

Read these first:-

 

(One good way to damage the sidewalls but modern tires is designed to absorb such sudden shocks)

Last month – on the month of the CNY – had proved to be a rather very expensive month for me as an owner of a car.

Firstly I accidentally scrapped my left back tire against the kerb and caused a small portion of the tire sidewall to be sliced off. I know for fact that whilst you can abuse the main tread and still drive safely, the same cannot be said for the sidewall. And it was painful because the tire was still new – barely a year since I last changed it. I took it to 2 different tire shops – the first one looked at it and said it was nothing to worry. The mechanic went back into the shop, brought back a bottle of super-glue and simply glued the sliced piece of the sidewall back into the tire. Feeling unconvinced, I went back to the shop where I first changed the tires a year ago. Unfortunately there were too many cars at the tire shop and the mechanics were busy. I managed to convince one of the them to check the tires. He came over and very lazily said it was nothing to worry as well.

But deep down, I was not happy or feeling safe, driving around with a sliced sidewall. As far I can remember, I never had damaged sidewalls before this and this was the first time I encountered this. It was time to do some goggling on the net and find out from the experts out there if I am feeling worried for nothing. Unfortunately for me, it looked like I had a very unique situation and generally most experts do not suggest driving around with a damaged sidewall (mine was not damaged but sliced). A few days had passed and for a moment I had forgotten that I was driving around with a sliced + patched up sidewall but that notion of not feeling safe kept bugging me, more so when I have my kids in the car. And one day, somewhere in a motoring forum, I finally read what I was looking for – someone had commented that no amount of money saved can come close to the safety of the people in the car.

That caused my mind to be made up but I had to wait for few more days as most of the shops were closed for CNY. But once the shops were opened, I headed to the nearest shop and talked to the owner. He too said that the tire were still driveable but the point is, the sidewall strength is compromised. So one need to be very careful when driving. I pondered on his statement – I do drive fast in the morning and I am the one who send my youngest to school in the morning. I could not imagine the carnage if the tire decides to blow out.

I decided to change the tires and considering the old tires were still new, the owner decided to give good discount for my new tires. But lesson well learned and I have now become more careful and patience when I am driving – another sidewall damage is the last thing I want.

It was not the only problem I had with the car and interestingly I only discovered this second problem by chance. My wife wanted me to check her car engine bay and to check the water level. Since I was doing that, I decided to check my car as well. When I opened the engine bay, I noticed that black oil splashed all over the place. I have seen this before – the engine gasket worn out and the engine oil was leaking. I had the same problem once with my old car. That probably explains the loss of power when I am driving to work in the morning.

Good thing was my car’s scheduled service was coming up and despite a last minute call to the service centre, I managed to get an early appointment at about 8.30 am. I don’t want the leak to continue and damage other components. At the service centre, despite making appointment at 8.30 am, I had to wait for other cars (from previous days) to be done first and only at 10.30 am, the car was brought into the service bay. I knew the mechanic from previous visits, so standing next to him whilst he worked on my car was not a problem and he was also explaining on what he was doing. The engine oil was indeed leaking and it was time to replace the sealants and cleanup of the leaked oil.

Another cost to the car so soon after I had changed the tires. It was another costly affair but once again, it was necessary. The service took almost 3 hours to complete (partly because they had to order some of the parts) and as I chatting away with the mechanic, he asked me if I had changed the timing belt. It was time to change based on the mileage but as I checked my car service records, I don’t see any indication of the manufacturer had changed the timing belt but I can guarantee that I have adhered to the service schedule to the dot.

And I was very tempted to allow the mechanic to proceed to change the timing belt. I decided to call the other service centre to check their records and was relieved when they confirmed that the timing belt had been changed and I had nothing else to worry. The car is back to it’s perfect state and it is great to be driving again, feeling safe and confident and with a set of good music in the background, the morning traffic was not so bad and somehow and surprisingly I can find a sense of calmness to allow the morning queue jumpers, road hoggers and other morons on the road to do what they do and don’t get angry so easily (unlike the previous time).

Two incidents involving the car and it burned my pockets very badly but the fact is that no amount of money can replace one’s life and that should be the case all the time.

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Damn Those Shoddy Roadworks!


Pothole_Repair_Image

(The right way to do a patch for potholes – instead of covering only the hole, cut a bigger area and patch in the right way and follow up on the patch work. How many times you have seen this in the Bolehland? Image source: http://www.gallagherpaving.com)

Read these stories back in 2011:-

Whether in residential or commercial areas, travelling around the city often means a bumpy ride because of the potholes and badly patched stretches of roads. In many places, roads in good condition are dug up by utility and telecommunications companies for the laying of pipes and cables. They are then badly resurfaced.

In April, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng had highlighted at least six places in his constituency where roads were dug up without a permit. A spokesperson from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) corporate communications department confirmed that there have been cases where contractors operate without approval from DBKL.

“If we find out that they have no permit, we will contact the respective companies. If the dug-up areas have not been patched up or resurfaced, we will do it for them and issue them the bill. “We have also found out that many contractors appointed by the companies have no expertise in resurfacing roads,” he said.

(Source)

And

Most councils require a deposit from companies before they are allowed to carry out any roadwork. If the council finds the resurfacing job has not been done properly, resulting in sedimentation on the road, the deposit is then forfeited. It has been reported that RM500,000 per kilometre is needed to carry out road resurfacing.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said the two causes for the bad road conditions in the Klang Valley were the old method of patching the holes as well as underground water leakage. “There are also contractors who take the easy way out to save money,” he said. However, there is not enough enforcement to check on the quality of roadworks. In his constituency alone, there are holes from digging work that have been left as they are for months, especially in Segambut Dalam, Mont Kiara and Hartamas.

Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Seri Ahmad Fuad Ismail said 80% of the potholes and uneven roads were caused by utilities and telecommunication companies digging up the roads to install and repair their cables. He said there were so many of such roadworks that it had become an embarrassment to DBKL because the blame was often laid at its door.

(Source)

The road near my workplace was bad so much so that I was even contemplating of buying a 4 wheel drive vehicle for my daily commute. It was a similar case with another stretch of road near my housing area. It gets worse – certain part of the road gets flooded once it rains. Then one day, a couple of days before the general election, a “miracle” happened and it happened overnight – it could have been one of the pre-election goodies. The road was resurfaced and to a quality that all Malaysians can be proud of. And the level of the road has been raised to ensure it does not get flooded whenever it rains. And it was so for a couple of weeks until some bastards decided that they need to dig up the whole stretch of the beautifully resurfaced road to do some piping work and they decided to do this at peak hours. They closed one part of the road, causing the already terrible traffic jam to be even worse. And then they started digging and that lasted for few days. Then they do the worse kind of patching work ever once done. The patch work was not the same level of the road and ended up as mini bumps all over the place. Some started to form into mini potholes. And after a couple of days of rain, it went bad to worse.

Potholes and bad road work is not new in Malaysia – as far as one can remember, this has been so for many years. Whenever I see the excavator digging into the beautifully laid road (resurfaced with taxpayers’ money), it pains me greatly. And it has been a norm in Bolehland to see some buggers digging up the road just after it has been perfectly laid on and not before that. Don’t these idiots plan before they do things? Don’t they check first with the relevant authorities and get their approval to ensure that whatever roadwork to be done is done before the road is scheduled to be resurfaced? Don’t they realize that they causing the taxpayers some serious money to resurface the road again? Probably they are the same idiots who queue up at the express lane at the supermarkets with more than 10 items despite a large notice at the counters.

Never mind, let’s assume that they are digging up all over the place in the “best interest” of their paying consumers. After all, wouldn’t we all be making a lot noise when our internet gets disconnected or the water supply breaks down unannounced? And let’s assume that that they are unable to plan the digging before the road is resurfaced due to some unavoidable circumstances, red-tapes at the local authority or to some serious emergency (where they could not afford to wait). The next question in mind is why these buggers can’t resurface back the road in a proper way and without the bulging patch all over the place or the sink-holes (due to insufficient top soil, heavy traffic or bad weather). Can’t they put themselves in the shoe of the long suffering road users who have to ply the same road and risk serious damage to their vehicles after that shoddy patch work?

After all, if they know how to dig, they also should know how to patch, right? No excuse of them not being well-verse with road-work or their sub-contractor not doing job to the right specifications and quality (it’s alright if it looks ugly or messy but at least it need to be strong enough to take the usual stress and not turn into a bigger pothole). No excuses of the weather (the usual sorry excuse) or heavy traffic on the road – it is already known fact, so whatever patch work done must take this into consideration. Unfortunately instead, we get the usual quick fix of placing back the content dug out and then pouring the bitumen on the pothole and simply patch it to cover the hole – some to the same size of the hole instead of a bigger area and leaving plenty of spaces for water to seep in and make it worse.

Why the shoddy work? Is it because someone is trying to make that extra bit of profit from saving up money to be spent on a proper patch work? Or is it because it has been sub-contracted to less competent contractors – one who has less experience, skills and the know-how but formed just to milk the lucrative Government projects? And what happened to the enforcement aspect of the local authorities inspecting the patch work and to ensure that it is up to mark and if it is not, to force the contractors to redo the patch work or fine them left right center for the poor patch work (and then use the fine to do a proper resurfacing later or to reimburse motorists who suffered damages to their vehicles). Do that and they will think twice of short-changing the taxpayers when it comes to doing a good job – can we?

And since potholes have been with us since the creation of the roadways, are we also looking on whether we need to improve on how we tackle potholes with new technologies. Or are we still far off from this kind of long term solution for a long outstanding problem. In the meantime, we should be up arms against anyone who dig up the roads but don’t bother to take the time and proper care to do a professional repair work. After all, this is eating up into the taxpayers funds in the long run and creates unnecessary danger to all road users.

Snipers & Helmet-less Idiots


I am not sure whether further toughening of the existing traffic laws would make any difference to the current statistics without a proper follow up with the enforcement of the said laws (or by some miracle, a change of attitude).

Read this:-

The maximum fines for three traffic offences were proposed to be increased because such violations caused many road deaths, said the Road Transport Department (JPJ). JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Ismail Ahmad said Tuesday the three traffic offences – driving without a licence, exceeding the speed limit and ignoring traffic signals – also resulted in many cases of injuries and damage to public property.

The Bill also proposed for a minimum fine of RM300 to be imposed for the three offences, as well as for failing to display a vehicle registration number according to specifications.

However, he said traffic offenders can be hauled up to court if they repeat violations as often as three times in two months. The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2012 seeks to increase the maximum fine from the current RM1,000 to RM2,000. The proposed amendment also seeks to increase the maximum speeding fine from RM1,000 to RM2,000. It proposes to increase the maximum fine for those who ignore traffic signals from RM500 to RM2,000.

(Source)

Last weekend I had to pass through the fucked up Kampung Medan to meet up someone and I will be going again this week (you see, I have no other choice – there are still good people living in this area) and despite the road safety awareness campaign on the media and call for stricter laws, there are too many idiots on the road riding around without any helmets and some of them riding on the wrong side of the road as well (most of them are young, foolish as usual with their equally idiotic parents allowing them to do so).

After narrowly missing hitting a helmet-less idiot on a motorcycle who was riding on the wrong side of the road (and who had the cheek to horn me to move away from my legal lane), I expressed my disappointment (and anger) on the enforcement agencies that seemed to have conveniently missing from the “scene of the crime”. My wife wondered the same – where are the police and RTD officers manning road blocks, confiscating the motorcycles and throwing these idiots into the windowless detention cells? Where is the enforcement? After all, these idiots would not have been too brave to be riding around with heavy traffic all around wearing shorts & flip-flops and not wearing any helmets if there has been a serious crackdown from the enforcement agencies in this area.

(Wearing the right gear and riding responsibly is what makes the difference between a good sensible motorcyclist and an idiot on a killing machine. Not having enough money to buy the right gear is not an excuse and unfortunately the Government too have been rather lax in enforcing motorcyclists to wear the right gear when they are on the road – a typical 1st class facility, 3rd world mentality. Image source: Google Image)

Perhaps enforcement by the police & RTD has been done but it is clear that it is not enough and more importantly, is not done on a regular basis. Perhaps the enforcement agencies have done all they can and have despite everything they have done, nothing much have changed. So even though the Government is proposing to increase the fines for traffic offences, without proper and regular enforcement (or other stronger measures in place), there is nothing much, they can do in getting the road users to abide by the said rules. The Automated Enforcement System may be helpful in some areas but we have yet to see the effectiveness of the system and unfortunately it does not cover all types of traffic offences (including traffic offence of not wearing a helmet).

What else can be done? We see helmet-less idiots in other places as well and they remain stubborn as ever and continues to be a nuisance and dangerous to other road users.

As I was driving back feeling angry and frustrated as these idiots continue to weave in and out in front of my car, an interesting (or rather a very nasty) idea came to my mind. If I had the powers, this is what I would do – it is simple really:-

Just get the army’s top 5 snipers and place them hidden around the area with a simple instruction – pick any idiot who is on the motorcycle weaving in and out of traffic and without any helmets and take them out with one clean shot to the head.

And they should be doing this the whole day until no idiot is left to be riding around without any helmet and everyone has wise up and start wearing the helmet. A couple of days later, unannounced, the whole process should be repeated again (because by now some idiots would go back to their usual ways thinking the enforcement have stopped). Trust me, after a couple of unannounced sniping, no idiot would dare to venture out on motorcycle without any helmet – a long outstanding and nagging problem solved immediately.

And once this has shown its immediate “success” in the lawless Kampung Medan, such programs should be be expanded to others areas (namely residential areas) where idiots on motorcycle is a norm. And over a very short time, seeing an idiot on the motorcycle weaving in and out of the traffic without any helmets would be a very rare thing.

In the end, it is just a wishful thinking – it will not (I won’t say never) happen of course but we need to do something serious about people who break traffic rules on a regular basis and without any care or thought on other road users [read here on what I think the Government can do to ensure motorcyclists keep themselves and others safe whilst on the road]

I have seen people riding around without any helmet in many places including my residential area but it seems to be at worse scale in Kampung Medan and the surrounding areas (if you drive through this place, you will know what I mean). And I am only making it as an issue because I have drive through the same place in recent times and in both occasions I nearly knock down an idiot on the road even though I kept to my lane and followed the prescribed speed. I don’t really care whether that idiot in the end dies or seriously maimed for life (which probably make my day) but I do not want incur unnecessary repairs cost, time and nuisance  due to other people’s stupidity and recklessness.  You don’t want the same, I am sure.

So, now how soon we can deploy those snipers?

Quote of Week – Unsafe Cars


“The lack of demand among Malaysians for safety features is the main reason why many vehicles sold in the country do not meet international safety standards”

(Just how many of the locally made cars had even passed the basic crash test with flying colors? If you know the answer, then you will know that we been screwed with unsafe cars for a very long time now but question is whose’ fault is it? Image source: http://news.carlist.my)

At first, I thought of commenting on some politicians saying that warnings of violence against another community are now a Malaysian norm but I remembered – it is coming from a Malaysian politician. Ya, that is pretty norm these days to be hearing them to say warning of violence is a norm especially when they don’t seems to be doing anything to curtail it.

Then I read this:-

The lack of demand among Malaysians for safety features is the main reason why many vehicles sold in the country do not meet international safety standards, said Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah.

He said many Malaysians still did not bother wearing seat belts and helmets.

“There are also no regulations to ensure that vehicles sold in Malaysia must comply with international safety standards.

“This is why there are similar models of cars sold in Malaysia but their safety features are different from those in other countries like the United States,” he told a press conference after signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China’s Research Institute of Highway here Thursday.

To prevent car manufacturers from practising such “double standards”, Dr Ahmad Farhan said the Government was constantly engaging in talks to convince them there was a growing demand for safer cars.

On why the Government did not take the initiative to make regulations that would ensure better safety features in vehicles, Dr Ahmad Farhan said: “It will take a long time before such a law can be approved in Parliament. We believe it will be more effective if we talk to manufacturers directly.

“These days, we are getting more positive response from car manufacturers,” he said.

(Source)

Revelation by the MIROS DG is nothing new – we know for a long time now that many vehicles sold in the country do not meet international safety standards, not at the price that we can afford, of course – but the sad part is his reasoning – that we Malaysians have made suckers for a long time with cheap, unsafe cars in this country because we don’t DEMAND for safer cars (what he expects us to do? Street protest on the weekends?).

Ya, I had expected something “more intelligent” from head of the agency which looks into the safety aspect of the road users in this country but his reasonings does not hold water as well.

Firstly, he says that Malaysians are blamed on poor quality of cars that is brought into this country. Why? Because they don’t bother wearing seat belts and helmets? If so, shouldn’t it be for the enforcement agencies in this country to enforce the law and hung them from the high pole? That should not be the sorry excuse for poor quality of cars in this country. Further, what about others who wear seat belts and helmets but had to content with unsafe cars because they cannot afford the more expensive but safer cars?

Secondly, he argues that it is “easier” to get the manufacturers to bring in safer cars, NOT by making strict laws that enforces minimum safety specifications of vehicles in this country but rather by “engaging in talks to convince them” that there was a growing demand for safer cars. Convince them? I could almost hear him saying that the Government is powerless against mighty & powerful car manufacturers and they have no choice but to wait and see if the car manufacturers will have change of heart to produce safer cars.

And even if the car manufacturers DO bring in safer cars, what would the cost be and how this is going to be translated to the car selling price. Already, we are paying big money unnecessarily for poor built cars in this country compared to others in the world. To add more safety features would surely means an increase of cost of research & development, manufacturing and production. Can we see cheaper but safer cars if the Government managed to convince car manufacturers that there is a demand for safer cars? You and I know that until we see the AP bullshit abolished in this country and perhaps a fairer treatment between locally made and imported cars, we are not going to see cheaper, safer cars.

And why “it will take a long time before such a law can be approved in Parliament”. Why when the issue at hand is safety and reduction of fatality of Malaysians on the road? Is it because we have too many mindless clowns roaming the Parliament, harping on wrong issues that is facing the country?

If there is lack of enforcement, then look on how the laws can be better enforced and if there is no relevant laws, then look at how the Parliament make the necessary laws. That should be the focus of MIROS in plugging the loopholes that causes Malaysians to continue to drive unsafe cars in this country (we yet to come to education, road conditions in this country, etc). Not by blaming Malaysians (who may not have a say on what kind of car they can afford with their salary range) and sucking up to car manufacturers (who bottom line dictates their business direction).

In the meantime, we probably should add “safe cars” into the list of things to be protested…

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)