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.