Local Counsel - Why flout traffic laws?

CARS are considered necessities in today’s world. As a result, there are now too many cars on the road.

To ease the use of cars and other motor vehicles, such as buses and lorries, the federal government has spent billions of ringgit building roads and highways. There are traffic laws such as speed limits for motorists to have smooth and safe journeys.

Parking bays are the responsibility of local authorities. In addition, property developers, especially those building shopping malls, also incorporate multi-storey car-parks in their projects.

Unfortunately, there are motorists who ignore speed limits and park where they are not allowed to. Worse, when local council enforcement officers issue summonses to the errant drivers, some of them get very angry.

Last week, an ugly parking incident in Shah Alam was a good example. According to a news report, a young Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam officer was “traumatised” by a couple when she issued a traffic summons for parking their car without displaying a parking coupon.

According to a video which had gone viral, the woman was seen grabbing the officer’s tunic tightly for a long time. Her partner was trying to take a picture of her and refusing to let the officer go unless the summons was cancelled.

The episode was reported to the police. Subsequently, the driver and his partner were fined RM3,000 each and sentenced to 14 days’ jail by the Shah Alam magistrate’s court after pleading guilty to using force to obstruct an officer from carrying out her duty.

This should serve as a lesson and deterrent to those who have a tendency to flout traffic laws. Malaysians must learn to comply with laws. Those who tend to react badly to enforcement officers must realise that they should just pay their fines.

Shah Alam Mayor Datuk Ahman Zaharin Mohd Saad should be commended for praising the officer and giving full support for what she did.

The Shah Alam incident was not unique. A similar case happened in Penang Island last year.

Two men yelled at a female Penang Island City Council enforcement officer for clamping their car that was parked illegally.

One of the men shouted at her to remove the clamp on his car parked on a double line along Campbell Street. When the officer refused, the car owner tried to remove the wheel that was clamped. But he failed to do so. He in turn told the officer that he had lots of money and would not drive away without paying the fine. His friend then threw a RM50 bill on the road.

The officer picked up the money and then removed the clamp. The whole episode was recorded by her colleague. She lodged a police report but retracted it without giving a reason.

Many Malaysians have a lackadaisical attitude towards traffic laws. Anyone who drives at the maximum speed allowed on highways will soon find that he or she will be over-taken by cars, lorries and buses.

It is not surprising that the number of road accidents resulting in serious injuries and even deaths keep increasing year after year. According to Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, the number of road accidents in 2014 was about 476,000 whereas in 2015, it rose to about 489,000 cases.

A World Health Organisation Report said Malaysia has the highest casualty rates in the world.

If Malaysians expect to have a better quality of life, they must obey the law even when there is no traffic policeman in sight. If Malaysia is to be acknowledged as a developed country by 2020, the citizens must obey all laws.

This writer is one who advocates that people should park further and walk to their destinations, especially if they are not willing to pay for proper parking bays.

Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee is interested in urban governance, housing and urban planning. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com