Syerleena Abdul Rashid
22nd February 2016
According to Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor, the government may close several city roads to allow illegal racers or “mat rempits” to race in Kuala Lumpur. Our problem with illegal street car racing is nothing new. In the past decade, numerous reports of vehicle accidents and various gang related activities have been closely linked with the Mat Rempit culture. It is pathetic that until today, the government is unable to address this issue effectively. Instead of conducting research to ascertain best practices to prevent this social ill from escalating further, the government is proposing to sanction illegal street racing.
In general, humans can become easily discouraged when certain expectations or self goals are not met. This feeling of frustration may lead them to drug or alcohol abuse because of the overwhelming problems they face. Peer pressure, deterioration of family values, lack of solid familial structures, lack of discipline and boredom have also been identified by scholars as influencing factors of harmful activities – illegal street racing being one of them.
Strict and effective enforcement is crucial as this can dissuade them from partaking in such activities. On the other hand, softer approaches such as identifying psychological factors should also be carried out as this can provide the long term solution our society needs.
Street racing is not sanctioned therefore it usually takes place on public roads. A recent letter published in a local daily stated grave concerns about how illegal racing occurred quite regularly on highways, expressways and even in residential areas. This raises numerous safety concerns, endangering the lives of participants and putting ordinary drivers as well as members of the public, at risk. Riders lack professional training in high-performance motorsport and will suffer devastating injuries. Reports claim that ‘around 10 people are hospitalized every week’ from motorcycle accidents.
Additionally, street racing will also lead to property damage (such as destroyed signage, lamp posts, etc). This will increase repair costs for the cities or local councils and this is not what our taxpayers should be paying for.
Other problems that will arise are increase in auto theft cases, escalating gang violence and other gang related activities, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and other public order offenses.
The idea behind the street racing culture is to form teams and to race each other – often regarded as a form of organized crime or gang activity. This is absolutely the wrong kind of message any government should sending. If anything, this is a weak approach that will only ineffectively address one of the many social ills plaguing our country.
Malaysians deserve the chance to live financially sustainable lives in emotionally healthy homes. They deserve to opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge needed to survive in a rapidly developing nation. Sanctioning illegal street racing will provide none of the above and is simply a bad idea; therefore, the government must exercise absolute diligence before supporting such a controversial move.
(Syerleena Abdul Rashid is DAP Wanita National Assistant Publicity Secretary, DAP Wanita Penang State Political Education Director, DAP Penang State Assistant Publicity Secretary and MBPP Councillor)