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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What will they think of next?

Look at the small boy in the far left seat. He is not using a child safety seat. In the event of a bad collision he would most probably be decapitated by his seat belt. But at least his dad won't be summonsed or fined.

The first and only time I met Road Safety Department Director-General, Suret Singh was at a charity carnival held in the middle of a horse riding arena. That time his department had set up a stall to disseminate information on road safety to a generally disinterested Malaysian audience who were visiting the carnival. As I remember, the stall was empty for most of the day except for some young boys who went there to try their hands at the free computer game that was set up. Even that couldn't hold their interest for more than 10 minutes. I remember Mr. Suret and I took advantage of the poor turnout at his department's stall to chat about a subject that he appeared very passionate about. Road safety. He shared some of his thoughts with me. And I shared some of mine. We chatted for almost an hour as I remember. At the end of our conversation I also remember going away with the pessimistic view that Mr. Suret was wasting his time and the public's money. Basically, my argument was that road safety must be instilled right from the start. In primary schools, in family daily lives, in driving schools and that most of all road safety rules must be enforced rigidly if any success is to be achieved in our efforts to get out of the record books as the country with one of the worse road safety standards and records. TV commercials, posters, banners, road safety games at shopping malls etc. are just not going to work.

Well since our meeting Mr. Suret has become a Datuk. He has initiated many efforts to try and improve Malaysia's road safety record. Strangely, I don't remember many of those. Presumably they mustn't have made much of a difference. And these days Datuk Suret is in the news again. This time it is the issue of rear seat belts. It seems that from January 1, 2009 rear passengers must belt up or face fines. Good or not? Hmmmm....I don't know la. Think about it.

In a country where........
Toddlers are allowed to ride standing up in the front seat of cars without any form of safety restraint. Child safety seats are not required by law. Motorcycles are allowed to carry up to 4 passengers, most of the time children. Car owners are allowed to use the left lane of major highways and busy central city streets as parking lots. Lane discipline is totally unknown. Road signs are almost always conveniently hidden behind trees. Direction indication by drivers is considered to be indicative of the said drivers being wimps. Motorists and motor-cylists ignore basic traffic laws like traffic lights with impunity. Traffic police patrol cars casually drive by un-attended vehicles parked on pedestrain walkways. Kap-cai (mopeds) riders make illegal U-turns right in front of traffic policemen. P0lice road block personnel still routinely ask questions like, "Macamana? Naik tolong ke?" Where traffic laws are a 2-tiered system. One for ordinary Malaysian vehicles and another set for single digit or luxury vehicles with illegally tinted windows.
................they are now telling us that we must belt up rear passengers for safety!!!???

I am sure this law will make some selt belt manufacturers very happy. And I am also sure that a few 'black sheep' in the PDRM's traffic division will welcome the move because they can 'selesai' a few Ringgit here and there to help with rising costs of living. But save lives? Naaaaaaaaah! I don't think so la.

Before it even starts problems are beginning to surface.

Apparently, if the vehicle can carry 3 passengers in the rear there must be 3 sets of belts provided. But if the driver decides to carry a 4th passenger that passenger is exempt from the belt up law. Huh???!!!

Although the law comes into force on January 1, 2009 the car companies seem to have been caught with their pants down or their belts un-buckled so to speak. "Errrr...sorry ah. We have not received instructions from headoffice yet la"......."Cars without anchorage points will be given a special sticker as proof that they have gone for checks at our service centres" - now just what the fuck does that mean???

But there is one thing in this whole charade that is VERY Malaysian la. With all the loose ends flying about the 'authorities' are busy deciding if it should be the driver or the offending passenger or both who should be summonsed for not using the rear safety belt.

Famous Malaysian last words?

"No clear rules for the new directive has been set...." - Federal Traffic Chief Senior Asst Comm II Abdul Aziz Yusuf. The operative words being NO CLEAR RULES of course.



Anonymous said...

I once was caught using the handphone while driving and a patrol car stopped me. I did not have much money except 3 ringgit and a sports toto 6/49 which strike 3 out of six numbers.

The prize money was RM 3 ringgit, I think. I handed my cash of RM 3 and the sports toto winning ticket.

They 2 patrolmen took it and rush off when their radio starts blurting out some radio calls.


Zoom Zoom said...

what will they think of next? hhmmm...wear helmets in the car??

if they are really serious about road safety, they should first improve the road conditions. with potholes everywhere and manhole covers of few inches high (sometimes few inches recessed & sometimes missing) in the middle of the road, no wonder our accident rates are forever going up.

i personally have nothing against rear passengers belting up but what you said is so true. there are so many other areas which they can improve road safety but are ignored.


ashleighhhh said...

sure is another way to look at it.

i recently did a college assignment on the implementation of the rear seatbelt ruling. was supposed to design a fact sheet, magazine article and a website to promote the use of rear seatbelts. perhaps the kind of stuff our friend suret would use.

needless to say, it was a ridiculous waste of time =/ throughout the course of my work, i was wondering to myself what kind of idiot would waste time and pay attention to stuff like this.

my work was supposed to be based on the website - another effort by our government to promote road safety. i never knew such a site existed!

Anonymous said...

If so concern about road safety, lets have a rule say that all car manufacture in the country or any imported cars, must have engine that will only provides the maximum speed of 30km/h.

Juanito said...

problem in malaysia is simple... uncle pat has a point that all theses fundamentals need to be instilled since the young days.. but in the later days, when any rules or laws come into effect, it is the responsibility of the authorities to ensure that the laws and rules are being complied irrespective of race..

today, when we see a motorcyclist without helmet or when he is carrying 3 others on his motorbike, what is the policeman doing? NOTHING!!

the policeman has in his mind that 'kalu bumi jangan saman, kalu cina ka india ka baru saman... lagi lagi cina saman pasal depa kaya'....

how to work la? msia is fond in implementing law but not policing them after the implementation... then what is the point??

this is not call boleh but bodoh!

Hamizi said...

agreed... this is just a way to give some business to all the chronies... they actually don't care about us...

Anonymous said...

Get the f...king mat rempits off the road first if you want to initiate road safety on Msian roads. What a f....king menance!

Anonymous said...

You surely spend lots of time writing this long post, must be very passionate about road safety. I cannot agree more, putting up new laws and then seeing them been broken right away and them totally ignored. This is Malaysia of course, where even the impossible can be made possible.

The decision to make rear seat belting up is noble, no argument. It is the preparation to make it a practical implementation flawed. My suggestion, you may see it ridiculous, is forget about rear seats. Put up a cushioned buffer zone between the front and rear seats, you know like those luxury limousine to give rear passengers privacy from the driver, so that in the event of a collision the rear passengers all will head into the cushion and sustain minila head injuries. If they bump into each other and die, well, too bad. At least they don't crash into the front windscreen and cause more damage to the car. Heh, heh!

caravanserai said...

Rear seat belts
For safety of passengers
Giving grace period
Then law comes into effect
1 January 2009

One of my cars
Now 24 years old
Old age has taken its toll
Yet it runs perfectly on the road

Rear seat belts
Sorry it has no anchorage points
No news about Mazda giving free seat belts
I guess I have to dismantle car rear seats
So I will not get summon……………

Road safety must start in schools
Wasting taxpayers’ money on slogans and advertisements
The government knows it doesn’t help
Yet it is going ahead because of money to interested parties

Our roads aren’t in good shape
So many potholes yet nothing really is done
People had died before yet it lingers on
Now telling us about rear seat belts

This old Madza lady
It has traveled with me
North and South, East and West
Going against flood prone areas too
She came out top
No I can’t retire the old lady
I rather sacrifice the rear seat

I guess this is the prelude
Of retiring old cars over 15 years
The car manufacturers are clamoring for it
Just wait the ruling will come to enforce
Niahmah they don’t think
North South East and West
They just want to shoot!

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with you. Sometimes, our policy makers just miss the point. Yes, while it is good for rear passengers to buckle up but the question remains if this can be effectively implemented in Malaysia. The way i see it, this NOT SO CLEAR RULE will again be hampered by corruption and double standards. At the end of the day, the ones who will benefit are the pockets of datuk, seat belt manufacturer and fitters and the bunch who will lecture us for not buckling up. Just my 3 sens worth. PS: what about the limit of passengers in a car? there are only 3 rear seatbelts in a sedan but most of the time, especially during weekends, i see more than 4 passengers in the rear seats? Just last weekend, i saw this aunty who ferried 5 children and 4 adults in a proton waja. Is this safe/legal? anyway, i remember this aunty because she took my carpark! NIAMAH!!

K L said...

I can list below factors for road accidents :-
1) Bad road surface conditions
2) Bad road signages
3) Reckless drivers
4) Old junk cars
5) Kopi-O lesen drivers
6) Lorries carrying goods conditions
7) etc

Anonymous said...

It's like that one. Rules must have loop holes otherwise how to negotiate for selesai?

siti zubaidah said...

For someone who has 5 children -
3 children - no problem with the rear seat belt
2 others - so what happen to my two other chiildren.....should I leave them at home whenever i want to go out or let them loose in the car without wearing the seat belt???

Anonymous said...

after driving for 3 hrs from ipoh & through the damansara toll gates to the ESSO on the left & for half an hr there I was amazed to see some kl motorists without helmets zooming here there in the afternoon
at 12 !! I asked a malay boy who filling his bike with petrol said, " tak payah, ini KAMPONG !!"
then zoom came a lady with 2 kids on her honda !! to an ipoh pumpkin
KL is really a different CITY !!

Anonymous said...

side-track : one glc is still losing billions BUT kerajaan still pumps in more billions (disclosed by mp Mr Tong) !! guess the Co's name ? it's silterra = SIL-terror =
no wonder = a bottomless well lah !

Anonymous said...

2009 bajet : 95.1% of BILLIONS untuk malay sekolahs !! miserable 4.9% shared by babicina & tamil schools !!
mca, gerakan & mic, you really dun know meh !? ...@#$%^&*&^%$#@...
...niamah smelly xxx ...!!
90% of 'Inland revenues' come from babicinas somemore !! @#$%^&* !

kiat said...

Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, would think that there is nothing wrong with the top picture in the blog, where the child is using the normal seat belt. In fact, he thinks that baby seat is even dangerous for children of certain age. Check out his argument here:

Anonymous said...

What ever lah...
Talk first then flip flop later..
Malaysia maaa.. semua boleh!

The Unladen Swallow said...

I'm going to have to disagree with you here, Patrick. Rear seat belts actually do reduce fatalities, or injuries in general.

Furthermore, what do you have to worry about seat belt manufacturers, seeing as most vehicles in Malaysia, (except for maybe vans) have rear seat belts, unless you mean child safety seats. If you are so afraid of having to 'settle' dengan polis when it comes to it, just buckle up. It's about time the authorities came down hard on road users all over the country, as they would here in Australia at the moment, and it shows. 6200 fatalities in Malaysia (2005) as opposed to 1700 in Aus each year.

Then again, I would have to agree with you on one area; and that is it should be instilled from the start. Because face it, the public isn't going to give a damn if the govt doesn't. Factors such as overloading of passengers (even one extra is too many), shit roads, shit cops, shit everything really, before it turns into Indian road conditions.

Then again, easy for me to talk. Cars in Msia are damn expensive, compared to Aus. And the govt is also shit.

Anonymous said...

the point here is .... monies are being created for those umno malays to claim

Anonymous said...

the point here is .... monies are being created for those umno malays to claim

Marduk said...

Dear Patrick, The way you interpret the current corrupted scenario and road safety enforcement are simply marvelous,sharp and accurate. So happy you too smell the 'shits' around us! Keep up the good writing and make my days! Thanks & Bravo!

amoker said...

Anybody can be a lousy datuk nowadays. it is a money churning scheme.

Anonymous said...

since we don't need a clear instruction in having sex, we sure don't need Gov's directive or enforcement to be cautious. It's a good move I'd say. Patrick, it's a low blow from you this time....

KIMHO8 said...

How about the express buses passengers?

In 2010, all the drivers and passengers must wear helmets.

Gan said...

I was shocked to read that the 4th passenger in the back seats are exempted ... what kind of thinking is that?

I presume the 4th passenger must be some kind os Superman wonder.

P.S. Have you ever seen
1. drivers driving with a child between driver and steering wheel?

2. Reading newspaper (NST size version) whilst driving on the KLIA highway?

3. Once, I even saw one of my office fler who's a safety guy reading/writing notes whilst behind the wheel.

Malaysian Joe said...

Mr. Teoh,

If you are carrying a fourth rear passenger, you are already infringing the law.

Your car reg card says... 5 seater only.... so no 4th seat belt.. LOL!

patrickteoh said...

Dear Anonymous 12:24pm, I think you didn't understand what I was trying to say. What I DID NOT say was that enforcing belting up for rear passengers was a BAD move.

KIMHO8 said...

Maybe the 4th, 5th and 6th rear passengers can share the existing safety belts. Not sure with the 7th,8th....

samson said...

Unc. Patrick,

Like the previous exercise for motocyclist to wear helmets and motorist to buckle up, it takes time here in M'sia. ppl are not educated about personal safety, so until they get summoned and pay the policeman a few times, then only will they learn.

As for the kampung folks who think they can get away with it, hence no need to wear helmets, etc, once they seem more ppl get their heads broken, then they will learn, if not, will take more time.

They shd be educated from young in schools as my nieces and nephews from Europe know how to buckle up when they enter my age 6&8

How's your Smartcar...? Understand it is fuel saving and pretty strong. No need rear seat belts :p

Andrew said...


I can't agree with you on this one. Obviously, the Road Transport Dept has no say on our gov's policy to protect Proton, which causes cars to be expensive, which causes people to have to buy kap-cais that seat 5 people.

I think they are doing what they can, under the circumstances. They cannot require by law all kap-chais only take 2 people, then lots of kids will be unable to go to school everyday. However, they can require those who are rich enough to buy (reasonably) current cars to use the seat belts provided. Which is what they are doing.

All the other stuff you complain about it beyond their jurisdiction.

paul said...

No new rules, where got duit kopi!

No new projects, where got duit kopi!

No new govt, how to change!

Anonymous said...

at the ESSO again from Ipoh, many motorist without helmets & some with satu/dua kanak2 also, pat, can meh in KL !? but NOT in your hometown lah !!

Anonymous said...

You forgot to ask that Dato how to seat-belt express bus passangers.. ha ha ha,.. said...

pssst... uncle pat...

do you think this friend of yours, uncle suret has ever worn a helmet?

my dad komplenla.. "why enforce on helmet when he doesn't wear one, for his turban?" said my dad.

can you.... er... ask him? i need to answer my dad... :D