Malaysian motorists seem to have got their priorities wrong when it comes to settling their traffic summonses. They have no qualms throwing money on obtaining licence plates of their choice but have a problem when it comes to forking out money to pay traffic summonses.
The recent display of the “tidak apa” attitude of Malaysian motorists came to light when, despite the grace period which began on Aug 12 last year and a 50% discount given to traffic offenders to settle their dues, 17.3 million summonses have yet to be paid after the deadline lapsed on Feb 28, this year.
During the initial discount period, 5.5 million summonses were paid including the 1.5 million that were settled in the past week.
Responding to pleas from traffic defaulters for an extension, the Cabinet agreed to extend the grace period with the 50% discount to March 10. Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said the government was aware that many motorists could not settle their summonses due to the long queues, insufficient counters and overloaded computer system.
While the March 10 extension comes as a relief to the traffic offenders, what, however, must change is their attitude in disregarding summonses received until the eleventh hour and that too when the Road Transport Department (RTD) made it clear that those who continue to ignore their summonses would have their names blacklisted, preventing them from renewing their driving licence and road tax.
That news and the looming deadline resulted in the defaulters storming post offices which stayed opened until midnight to attend to the last-minute payment of summonses.
It is apparent that Malaysian motorists, many who are known for their notoriety once they get behind the wheel, take the law for granted, assuming the worse will not happen should they ignore the summonses received.
Realising the apathy shown by motorists, RTD decided to “get down to business” through its ultimatum of blacklisting defaulters. While that, to an extent, helped get the offenders to settle their summonses, there still remains the 17.3 million unpaid summonses.
Don’t mollycoodle offenders
In December last year, Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha said RTD had no plans to extend the grace period given to blacklisted traffic offenders to renew their road tax and licence by Feb 28, 2011.
Why then did Hishammuddin announce an extension? Is this the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s ploy to win public support and hopefully their votes come the 13th general election?
Kong had also said the RTD had no plans to emulate the police in providing discount to traffic offenders to get them to promptly settle their dues.
If the offenders take the law for granted it is because they are being mollycoddled by the very law that is supposed to send home the message that rules are to be obeyed, not taken for granted and messed with.
However, in December 2009, the RTD gave a 30% discount to traffic offenders who made prompt settlement of their summonses.
RTD deputy director-general Rohaizah Mohamad Rashid had said the discount was applicable to motorists who made payments within 15 days of the date of the summons and a 15% discount before 30 days. Those who paid their fines after 30 days would have to pay the full amount.
The law must do its job
A total of 18 million summonses for traffic offences issued by the police, RTD and Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) from 2000 to 2009 remained unsettled.
RTD director-general Solah Mat Hassan had said of the figure, 15.6 million were summonses issued by the police, 1.8 million by DBKL and 608,070 by RTD.
Solah said between Feb 11 and 17, only 1,227 RTD summonses were settled while for the police and DBKL, the numbers were 113,447 and 35 respectively.
What does this show? It tells that Malaysian motorists have become complaisant with the law. The blame here should be proportioned to both the errant motorists as well as the government for playing politics and not standing its ground in getting the defaulters to settle their summonses.
The government should stop sending home the message that traffic offences are lesser crimes by virtue of the discount given and should strictly let the law do its job.
Was the 50% discount necessary? If the law has been disrespected, should the perpetrators not be punished according to the law? Why the move to spoil them by providing a discount and that too for traffic offences?
(According to Works Ministry’s Highway Planning Unit – Road Safety Section – traffic accidents in Malaysia increased at an average rate of 9.7% per annum over the last three decades. The total number of road accidents had increased from 24,581 in 1974 to 328,264 in 2005, representing a more than 135% increase in accident cases over 30 years. The number of fatalities – death within 30 days after accident – also increased but at a slower rate, compared to total road accidents from 2,303 in 1974 to 6,200 in 2005.)
Even after offering a 50% discount and a decent grace period, the traffic offenders were still indifferent in wanting to settle their summonses on time. Why?
Beginning March 1 this year, the new compound rates for settling traffic summonses came into force and are uniformly applied by the above three agencies. The rates apply for offences committed from March 1 whereas the old rates introduced in 2007 apply for summonses issued prior to March 1, 2011.
Solah said that under the amended Road Transport Act, offenders who failed to settle their summonses within the stipulated would be blacklisted by RTD and the police. As for the DBKL and other enforcement agencies involved, a blacklisting mechanism has yet to be determined.
Prior to this, Kong had announced a new structure for settling fines for traffic summonses whereby offenders who paid up their summonses quickly would pay less and those who settled them late would face stiffer fines.
Motorists must be re-educated
It is not the discount that is going to help change the mindset of the motorists but a paradigm shift which must take place to produce responsible and accountable motorists.
The re-education of the Malaysian motorists has to start now, to assure road users in general that Malaysian motorists are no devils behind the wheel, flouting traffic rules at their convenience.
In this regard, the law must strictly be adhered to, with no room for “privileges” like discounts to get traffic defaulters to settle their arrears. Is Malaysia the only country in the world which offers discounts to traffic defaulters and yet fails to get them all to pay up within the stipulated grace period?
It is dangerous if there is a “lacuna” where the errant motorists go home under the impression that traffic laws can be “bought” over. If the trend of offering discount continues, there is no denying that the quality of motorists on the road is only going to continue to deteriorate.
PEKAN, June 8 — Six members of a family died when the Proton Iswara car they were travelling in collided with a trailer at KM78 along the Kuantan-Segamat road near Pekan, at 8.45 last night.
Pekan Deputy OCPD, DSP Amran Sidek said those who died in the tragedy were the car driver, Norfaizah Mansor, 31, her four children Norsyahira Atika Saudi, 13, Norsufia Saudi, 10, Norsuhaila Saudi, seven, and Mohd Shahrul Amir Saudi, three, as well as Norfaizah’s younger brother, Mohd Saiful Anwar Mansor, 14.
Amran said all the victims were returning home to Pekan after visiting Norfaizah’s parents in Keratong 2, Rompin when the accident happened.
“Upon reaching the scene of the accident near Kampung Runchang, the Proton Iswara, which was coming from the direction of Segamat, tried to overtake the vehicle in front but failed and collided with a trailer coming from the opposite direction,” he told reporters, here today.
Amran said both vehicles failed to avoid a collision, resulting in the Proton Iswara ending up under the trailer.
He said all the victims died on the spot due to serious injuries on the head and chest while the 44-year-old trailer driver and his wife, 43, suffered minor leg injuries.
He said the case was being investigated under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act.
Meanwhile, Norfaizah’s father, Mansor Hamid, 55, said he did not expect that his children’s and grandchildren’s visit would end up in such tragedy.
“Normally, the youngest grandchild would not follow the mother back to Pekan, but this time, everyone wanted to go back,” said Mansor who came to know of the tragedy at 11pm and immediately rushed to the scene.
Norfaizah’s mother, Arfah Sulung, 54, said her daughter came home with her younger brother and children because she wanted to meet her husband, who works in Bukit Ibam, Muadzam Shah.
“My son-in-law had planned to take my daughter and their children to Melaka on a vacation during the school holidays,” she said. — Bernama