By Mariam Mokhtar
Will politicians find the political will to resolve the Mat Basikal menace before more deaths occur? When will the police treat the Mat Basikal menace as a priority?
On 28 October, 24-year-old sales promoter, Sam Ke Ting, was acquitted of driving recklessly, before a road accident which resulted in the deaths of eight teenagers. The accident happened at Jalan Lingkaran Dalam, in Johor Bahru, at 3.20 am on 18 February 2017.
The magistrate, Siti Hajar Ali, said that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against Sam, so she was not called to the stand. Siti Hajar ordered the immediate return of Sam’s driving licence and the RM10,000 to be returned to her bailor.
The court had based the decision on many factors, which included the dark and winding road, the large tree which obscured the road lighting, the presence of the scores of cyclists, some of whom were racing on their modified bicycles, known as “basikal lajak.”
A bicycle lajak has the handlebars lowered to the same height as the seat so that the rider can lie flat on the seat, and stretch his arms to reduce wind resistance, in what is known as the “superman” pose.
One must question if the parents of the teenagers were aware of their children’s activities, at 3 am in the morning. Similarly, one should ask the parents of Aminulrasyid Amzah, who was shot by the police for jay riding, if they knew what he did at night. He did not deserve to be shot or to die.
Children should not be out at night, and be racing illegally on the highway, at 3 am in the morning.
When Sam’s accident was reported, many irresponsible people tried to class this as a racist incident, because the driver was Chinese and the victims were Malay. It was not racist. They failed to understand that irresponsible children and their equally irresponsible parents were at fault.
These irresponsible people tried to say that Sam was speeding. How did they know? Were they able to measure the speed of the car before the crash?
Some of the irresponsible teenagers, who were injured, claimed that Sam was using her mobile phone whilst driving. Subsequent investigations showed that she was not speeding and was not using her mobile phone.
Such was the animosity towards Sam, that some bigots tried to organise a protest rally and at least one member of the Johor royal family, warned people not to spread hate.
The bicycling tragedy in Johor Bahru was an accident waiting to happen. The police have tried unsuccessfully, to disperse the cyclists on numerous occasions; but, the boys on their basikal lajak, quickly disappeared at the first sign of a police car.
The cyclists should not be on the dual carriageway. They should not be bunched in the middle of the road, nor congregate on the central divider.
Any road user who has come across these road menaces, will know that the Mat Basikals and Mat Rempits do not care about road safety, they are not visible and they weave in and out of traffic, oblivious to the danger they pose to others, and to themselves. Many of the youths involved are school dropouts.
Many Mat Rempits and Mat Basikal accidents involve Malay children. What happened to responsible parenting? Why are many of these parents in denial?
When you tell a Malay parent that his child is riding dangerously, and may cause an accident, he will say, “If it is God’s will, then so be it”.
Everything is decided by
takdir (fate), but he fails to understand that God wants him to help himself.
There were two notable responses, from the parents of some of the injured cyclists of that accident two years ago.
One father, whose son sustained injuries to his hip, admitted that he had been reluctant to “excessively control” his son. He feared that his son would be “stressed out” if he were to be admonished by his parents.
He admitted that his son, had, on several occasions, disobeyed him and sneaked out of the house at night.
One mother begged the public to stop blaming the parents and the victims. She felt that it was unfair of the public to blame the parents for neglecting their children.
She is right. The children are not neglected, but they have been over-indulged.
When a Malay parent excuses his wrongdoings with
“takdir Tuhan” (divine intervention) he is absolving himself of any responsibility.
The proliferation of illegal races indicates that there is no will, political or otherwise, to resolve the Mat Basikal problem nor the Mat Rempit menace. Many races involve syndicates and millions of ringgits change hands at these events. Will the IGP act before more deaths occur?
Punish the parents, especially those whose children are under the age of 18, and are involved in illegal racing. Perhaps, the parents will be moved to discipline their children and resolve the danger they cause on the roads. Act now, before the Mat Basikals learn to ride
kapcais and become Mat Rempits.
1. New Straits Times:
Salesgirl freed in Johor’s ‘basikal lajak’ accident
Police deny woman who rammed cyclists was on mobile phone
Johor prince slams hate campaign in bicycle tragedy
4. Free Malaysia Today:
Injured cyclist: Driver was speeding, using handphone
5. The Star:
Family of Aminulrasyid, who was killed by police, finally gets justice after eight years
6. Free Malaysia Today:
Stop blaming us, say parents of cycling tragedy victims
7. Malay Mail:
Police may call in parents whose children keep riding illegally modified
8. Malay Mail:
Modified bicycle accidents: Integrated enforcement by police, JPJ needed
is a Freelance Writer.)