Carnage on our roads

By Tunku Abdul Aziz
The Malaysian Insider
16th October 2010

[Tunku Aziz, one of the prime movers in setting up Transparency International Malaysia, in happier times was regarded by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi as “one man (who) was able to harness his personal passion and deep commitment to the values of ethics and integrity, give it a larger purpose and meaning, and turn it into a force to transform society for the better.” Why then was he left out of the MACC Advisory Group? He is regarded as being too outspoken for comfort and, therefore, difficult to handle.]

Much of Malaysian television news time is taken up by ghastly scenes of unspeakable carnage on our state of the art highways. We have the highest number of fatalities of any country in the world based on car ownership per capita.

The road transport department, long known for providing a haven for some of the most corrupt civil servants in the country, must accept full responsibility for the abysmal driving standards and the shocking road manners that contribute to an unwholesome and dangerous experience for law abiding motorists whose only wish is to be left alone to complete their journey in one piece.

The “flying licences” scam in Perak as exposed by Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed, then Director of the ACA Perak, now MACC’s Chief Commissioner, confirmed the extent of corruption plaguing the road transport department for as long as anyone cared to remember.

A study done by the government of Malaya two years or thereabouts before Merdeka pointed to a similar state of affairs in the RTD. It is, therefore, an old hand at the old game of corruption which has over time unleashed onto an unsuspecting nation tens of thousands potential road killers who have acquired their licenses through bribery and corruption.

The consequences of what can only be described as a betrayal of public trust are to be seen on roads all over the nation in the form of twisted metal encasing mangled bodies of innocent victims of widespread corruption.

Many who are on our roads should not have been allowed near a car in the first place, let alone drive it. Yes, they are licensed to maim and kill, but not to drive with care and consideration. They are a menace not only to themselves but worse still, to other road users.

They develop their own traffic rules as they go along, and as they regard the indicators on the steering column, for example, as optional equipment, you have to learn to be a mind reader to avoid being hit by these ultimate killer-lunatics.

Many of them graduate to bigger things, such as heavy trailer or container lorries and buses in which they develop their bullying tactics into a fine art, overtaking on the left, cutting in without warning, hogging the fast lane, overtaking motor cars which are already travelling close to the legal speed limit and, often, in a display of sheer lunatic streak, force a Kancil off the road.

What a difference when you compare the attitude of those driving buses and heavy lorries in Europe and Australia. They are careful about the safety of the passengers in their care, and the smaller vehicles sharing the road with them.

It begs the question how lorries and buses seem to get away quite literally with murder, which is what they are rather good at. They rule as kings of the highways of Malaysia, among the best in the world.

The laws of the country have never meant much to them. Now perched high up in their cabins above the Peroduas and the Protons of this world, these laws mean nothing at all to them.

As good Malaysians, they believe laws are made to be broken because they are familiar with a well-known local remedy that goes by the name of, “Nak Selesai-kah?” It is a failsafe solution. They also know from experience that the chances of being stopped by an honest enforcement officer are as good as striking a lottery.

Travelling up and down the country, I have rarely seen lorries and buses being stopped by enforcement officers although any one can tell that these lorries are grossly overweight. What is the secret of their immunity, I often wonder?

Successive ministers of transport, without exception, have failed to address the root causes of the unacceptable levels of fatalities on our roads. They have failed to get to the bottom of the problem, although it is clear as crystal to all of us who read and watch the gory details of tragic accidents that could arguably be avoided by better enforcement of existing traffic laws and regulations.

Malaysia is replete with laws; you name them and we have them, and yet why is it that we seem so helpless in creating order out of chaos in our society as a whole? Malaysia, as a country, runs the risk of being over-regulated and under-enforced, with predictable results.

To me it is corruption that is the real killer. The drivers who kill are merely its agents. This problem is so serious that it deserves the attention of a Royal Commission. It should be established immediately to undertake a study and make recommendations for ensuring the efficient management and operations of the Road Transport Department as part of the government’s enhanced delivery system that is the prime minister’s number one priority.

It is, sadly, a matter of life and death.

* This piece first appeared in the New Sunday Times on June 10, 2007 as part of a longer article. It is reissued by the author for publication in The Malaysian Insider as a reminder of the debilitating effects of corruption on society.

  1. #1 by DAP man on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 12:41 pm

    Tunku Aziz wrote this piece in 2007. That was more than 3 years ago and not a single person in authority has given heed to it.
    The staus quo remains – corruption is running berserk and young men and women are losing their lives on the roads all because the system and the government have failed them.
    This county is being burned to ashes by corruption. It’s not war, not famine, not flood nor “acts of God.”. It’s corruption.
    The country has lost its soul.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 12:41 pm

    Ng YY will use dis 2 promote ‘Visit Malaysia’ – other countries also hv high fatal road accidents, we can b better mah
    Come visit Malaysia, C towers n then die on our world class roads

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 12:45 pm

    No worry, all TAKDIR mah, Amen

  4. #4 by dagen on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 1:09 pm

    Where in the world do you see a long trailer (ferrying something like half dozen or so plateless new cars) bumping across a road divider to make a U turn?

    Where in the world do you see a little kancil (I doubt the car has any anti-skid function) zipping along the highway at 140km/h?

    Where in the world do you see a driver reversing down the slip-road along a certain busy highway to get back onto the main highway again?

    Where in the world do you see police motorcycles parked on pavement near mamak stalls?

    Where in the world do you see “sehala” road sign as indication of multi-directional traffic flow?

    And they say bungy jump is dangerous.

  5. #5 by cemerlang on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 1:18 pm

    Corruption begins in the heart. You are the one to decide if you wish to be corrupted yourself and or corrupt someone else. You can listen to a hundred and one preachings against corruption but even if you do it, God will not act against you. Not now anyway. Because hell seems unreal if compare to heaven. When you first entered the civil service, you did have a heart of goodness. Then you see things. You hear things. You experience the way your boss do things. We all makan gaji, mah ? Why do you have to be so serious about life ? Everything scheduled can be broken. She is the boss. She make the rules. She break the rules. Because she is the boss. So what if she believe there is a great God ? She make. She break. God just keep quiet. If God Almighty can keep quiet and let her be, why can’t you mere mortal men ? If you can’t beat them, join them. So after many months, this civil servant soon learn that in order to win, he must join the crowd and lost his soul. Those who did not join will find themselves looking at a very sad battle where wicked men win. Each time you see a vehicle discharging black fog from the exhaust pipe, you will know the Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalanraya is not doing as well as it should be. What is that RM 50 or RM 300 for minum teh ? Nothing. Nobody will know. 1.2 million public servants throughout Malaysia. Imagine the unseen and the unspoken revenue they are privately collecting. MS ISO is just a beautiful icing on top of a badly baked cake.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 1:41 pm

    Indonesian police solved its mat rempit problem by shooting them on sight. Likewise, the police here can end the carnage caused by speeding trucks and buses by shooting their drivers on the spot. It is better to end the life of the driver rather than throwing away the lives of the 40 passengers in his bus.

  7. #7 by Taxidriver on Saturday, 16 October 2010 - 2:44 pm

    For as long as there is no seriousness on the part of the government to fight corruption of every form and in every government institution, the road to becoming a failed state is just a matter of time.

    Corruption in Malaysia has permeated all Government Institutions and Agencies that is is now almost impossible for UMNOB/BN to address the problem as doing it will mean offending a huge number of theri supporters, thereby, greatly diminishing their chances of winning elections. UMNOB/BN is an Election Government. The country and welfare of rakyat is of little importance.

    Rakyat must unite to throw out UMNOB/BN come 13th GE to save the country from bankrupcy. We must do it for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

  8. #8 by on cheng on Sunday, 17 October 2010 - 8:07 pm

    The North – South highway must be about 16 years old (or more) now, but, there is not much different in terms of road width, number of lanes as compare with when it was completed long ago even though the number of road users must have increase greatly, But the big upgrade is the toll rate.

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