KEEPING THEM HONEST SERIES – LETS LOOK AT THE MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
It is great to hear politicians and senior civil servants give out press statements and off the cuff statements on political initiatives and deliberations thinking that no one is taking notes!
Or will hold them to account?
Let us address some surface to surface issues since this administration came to be post the May 9th general elections.
One of the first statements made was that of what we call ‘flying license or ‘Lesen Terbang’ – basically to the international reader – ‘fake licenses!’
A statement was made that the Ministry had the data of those in these categories and the numbers were shocking, when it was announced!
This to the analyzing inquisitor’s mind clearly illustrates that the various conduits in the process have been compromised by corrupt dealings!
There was a warning issued in 2018 but the reality is, in March 2019 we are advised drivers who obtained these fake licenses are reluctant to surrender their illegally-obtained driving licenses to the Road Transport Department (RTD), despite calls to do so by the authorities.
Amusingly, we are told that the number of illegal licenses surrendered so far is lower than what the Transport Ministry had expected when the announcement on drivers to return the licenses was made in September 2018?
Present Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook described the response as “below average and disappointing” despite the looming Oct 13 then which was the deadline for the holders to surrender the illegal documents.
The interesting thing about these licenses is that these are obtained without fulfilling the driving test requirements or without passing the test.
And the reason individuals like us are put to shame in many countries, which includes Australia, when we attempt to initiate a conversion exercise, despite in my case having a valid driving license since 1974!
The Australian official politely told me that they have no issues with Singapore driving licenses and as such, my Singapore relatives managed a conversion exercise, mine cannot be converted!
The fact is, we are a compromised nation!
We are aware that the ugly head of corruption lurks everywhere, destroys damages our image but these days there are certain quarters so proud of the corrupt among us!
They have become role models!
No wonder, a senior security apparatus chief replied me when I asked him who are not corrupt and compromised in our system?
He replied ask me who is compromised, it’s easier!
So despite warning, threats of imminent arrests there is no fear and the fake holders of these illegal licenses and those who were part of the end to end conduits walk free and others drive free on Malaysian roads!
They are a danger to other road users!
But who cares, really?
Months ago, I raised the issue of the road carnage on our roads and highways!
I raised the issues brought to me by my team of intelligentsia who looked at those behind the wheel and felt that it was about time that they that are serial offenders, substance abusers, those speeding, reckless, negligent and driving vehicles and heavy vehicles like transport and chemical trucks, intercity coaches, even Police and Army heavy duty vehicles recklessly putting other road users who pay tolls must be banned from driving!
When accidents happens, there is loss of life and limb, there are delays, there are several legal and others issues emerging, there are collateral damage, families hurt or killed, lives ruined, and I am surprised that till today, we have not had a civil suit against the concessionaire or others by consumers who have paid tolls and who expect better!
Our records show that there are 6 major highways that we need to revisit and address the whole question of road safety and importantly, managing serial offenders, substance abusers, reckless, speeding, negligent drivers to protect others on these stretches!
1. The North-South Expressway:
2. The Karak Highway:
3. The Federal Highway – made worst thanks to motorbikes on the freeway zig zagging and a law unto themselves!
4. The Simpang Pulai-Cameron Highlands Road
5. The Lipis-Merapoh Road
6. The Pan Borneo Highway
Till today, we have a strange inexplicable reluctance to address the reckless, speeding and perhaps, license less motorbike riders!
Of late, we have them also at times in convoy holding up traffic on the highways, some with their acrobatics, and there have been cases of cars being damaged if one tries to overtake the convoy!
Are these riders paying tolls like the others?
If they are not, is there not a duty of care by the concessionaires to protect paying customers and assuring them a pleasant safe trouble and incident free drive?
Are motorbikes allowed to ride right to left, left to right, cut into small spaces between cars, zig zag, damage cars in the process?
Again do these riders all have licenses and the required insurance?
The fact is there is no silver bullet here!
It has to start with policy initiatives.
There needs to be a political will!
We need a policy direction on these and others like those vehicles that are on our roads which are modified raising concerns on its safety and threats to other road users!
Why are they allowed on the roads?
Who approved those structural and other modifications?
Did the original manufacturers facilitate the modification?
If not why are they on the roads?
It has to do with taking severe action on those abusing the public highway space by ruthlessness, serial offenders, and substance abusers, those speeding, reckless, negligent and driving vehicles and heavy vehicles putting other users of the highway space at risk!
It is putting the fear of noncompliance on not just the drivers, the company whose vehicle is on the road with huge fines, jail terms, that there is an expectation and a requisition that their vehicles are road worthy, insured, their drivers following a code of practice of safe responsible driving and that they as an organization have zero tolerance for anyone subverting this cardinal rule!
These are basics!
I come to the table with over 40 years of government relations track record and know fact from fiction!
I am being super polite here asking my dear friends at the MOT to do the right thing!
As always, I am ready to help and assist in any deliberation that will make our roads safe in the consumers’ interest!
IF MOT requires ‘credible evidence’ before addressing these critical concerns, just analyze the statistics of accidents and deaths on our roads and its implications vis a vis economic loss and linked perimeters!