TV SMITH's Dua Sen: A View To A Kill
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

TV SMITH of Dua Sen ( brings a satirical eye to bear on the perennial problem of road accidents and explores some radical ways to kill the carnage.
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As you read this, the brouhaha over the recent festive mayhem may have subsided or has probably been replaced by some other unrelated headline-grabbing issue. As the press and surviving public dutifully tally the dead and maimed, another major festive exodus looms, waiting to prick our conscience, albeit temporarily. At the aftermath of each annual bloodbath, the resultant and predictable diatribes emerge, only to be buried along with the dead until the next horrific crash occurs. Not that there are no accidents outside the holiday seasons, just that we tend to switch on the spotlight only when there is collective bloodletting.

Whichever way we examine this Malaysian tradition of mass suicide and massacre of innocents, it still boils down to our legendary disdain for safety in every aspect of our lives. Where else would you find a twig or branch of leaves sticking out of the rear end of a car to indicate it is stalled in the middle of the road? Preserving battery life is considered more important than preserving the lives of other road users. Strangely, the same people would turn on the hazard lights at the slightest hint of rain and drive around gleefully with lights blinking like a berserk Christmas tree.

How often have you seen tyre carcasses lying on the roads? Either our heavy vehicles are using the cheapest of all retreads or are using the tyres until it peels down to the rim before replacing them. The commercial vehicle owners are not alone, naturally. Even some private vehicle owners are known to replace their balding tyres only after one or two of them have exploded or when their cars start skidding on perfectly dry, straight roads.

When the law forbade the use of a mobile phone while driving, Malaysians soon found another creative way round the rule. They don't talk on the phone anymore. They just read and send SMS messages from behind the wheel, on the move. The more dexterous ones would even squeeze a toddler behind the steering, fashioning a crude air bag in the process.

If you have been to a Formula 1 race at the Sepang Circuit, you would have enjoyed the post-race race just as much. Little Kancils with big noisy mufflers and sudden delusions of glory, would race furiously to KL. It is all part of the national psyche that's constantly fueled by advertisements centered on power and speed from almost every manufacturer of automotive products.

Ever wondered why every potong kereta (scrap) yard has stacks of those bizarre half-cut vehicles on sale? Surviving crash victims have been known to buy another 'half-body' and weld it to the other undamaged half. The vehicles are then sold off after the insurance claim has been paid off. Vehicles are rumoured to be imported in halves and classified as used spare parts to avoid the hefty duties levied for importing a complete vehicle. On arrival at our shores, the dissected bodies are re-united again and then sold to both willing and unwitting buyers. We need to find a way to identify thousands of these flimsy deathtraps already on the road.

Ways To Kill The Carnage

Homeward Bound. Smaller cities and towns should be developed with greater pace. More job opportunities outside Kuala Lumpur may mean a reduction in the number of people traveling long distances to their hometowns during festive holidays. Encourage more people to work near their hometowns by providing incentives for employers and employees. There may be a happy side effect; reduction of inter-state marriages. Too many involuntary long distance trips are carried out in the enforced tradition of visiting faraway in-laws during festivals.

The Final Countdown. Since almost every of our toll gate records the entry and exit times of vehicles, it should be easy identifying the speed demons. A car that clocks in less than 20 minutes from Sungei Besi to Seremban, for example, should raise a red flag. Devise an automated system through which 'early birds' are required to pay a hefty penalty or forced to wait it out in a holding area.

Eyes Wide Shut. Many countries have used the cardboard traffic cop with much success. Strategically and randomly placed along accident-prone stretches, the cutout cops effectively reduce speeding. But Malaysians need to take this concept a step further. We should also utilise cardboard Anti-Corruption Agency officers at strategic places to reduce the possibility of graft at roadblocks and checks.

Total Recall. Reports of syndicates selling fake drivers license coupled with the existence of the infamous Lesen Kopi-O since time immemorial mean half the driving population can't drive for nuts. Random testing of every driver through a computer generated lottery, similar to the National Service selection should be implemented. It does not matter if the person has had a license for twenty or two years; test him or her again, this time with the entire process scrutinised by the ACA. But then again, our current driving tests are not that much different from our education system. Rote learning and memorising are all that are required to pass.

Double Exposure: All relevant ministers should get out of their tinted cars and motorcade once a month and drive around town, unescorted. They should also take turns to ride pillion on a cub chai in order to see how easy it is for motorcyclists to flout every existing traffic rule, routinely and regularly.

Someone's Watching Me! Nothing triggers the civic-consciousness of Malaysians like a monetary reward. Since most people already owned a digital camera or a mobile phone fitted with one, encourage them to snap and submit pictures of law-breaking motorists to the authorities. The "motor-razzi" gets RM 100 of a RM 300 fine. If the system is properly implemented, one should be able to earn RM 2,000 and upwards a day, with very little effort. A major load would be taken off the police and it should jump start the economy with more money for the government and the man on the street.

To make the system attractive, fines and rewards must be paid within one week unless challenged in court. A potential problem might be tracking down the law-breakers, as many people are known to use fake or invalid addresses to register their vehicles. Not a problem, though. Just publish the plate numbers of untraceable vehicles in the major newspapers daily and offer a RM 100 reward upon successful arrest. Newspaper sales are bound to quadruple, as everyone will eagerly scan the daily list for familiar vehicles numbers of their neighbours, friends and relatives. With a few million eyes watching out, traffic offences are bound to decrease and people might just stop driving all together.

What do you think?

This article also appears on page 3 of today's StarMag (The Sunday Star).

© 2003 TV SMITH
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