Column - Kap chais and carbon emissions

THIS wasn't an announcement I was expecting when we talked about public transport, but let us discuss it. Federal Territory Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor has proposed that 50cc to 150cc bikes – what we call kap chai motorcycles – should be banned from Kuala Lumpur. His reason? It would lower carbon emissions.

This from the minister who only last year wanted to convert the streets of Kuala Lumpur into a race track for motorcycles by night. He is now speaking of reducing carbon emissions.

And people wonder why rational Malaysians are stressed out to the point of mental breakdowns.

Now, I will talk a bit about carbon emissions in general because it is a huge topic. It is basically how much carbon dioxide is pumped into the air by whatever you do, either directly or indirectly.

That being said, emission monitors are commonplace in London, where poorly maintained vehicles can be spotted via a camera that monitors emissions. Errant vehicle owners are fined.

One would think that lawmakers who had made a working visit to the United Kingdom would have pointed this out by now.

A lot of things other than attacking kap chai bikes could lower emissions, and many have been made law.

We have laws on checking emissions on poorly maintained vehicles and the penalties, but we don't see enforcers doing it during rush hour in KL to ensure "lower carbon emissions".

Going paperless lowers carbon emissions. Banning smoking in public places and encouraging anti-smoking campaigns also lower carbon emissions.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had another idea to reduce carbon emissions, which was the congestion charge.

Unfortunately, it seems to have backtracked from this brilliant idea, or kept quiet about it after the initial backlash.

Yet, more can be done by the government to reduce carbon emissions without taking it out on the poor who have chosen not to buy a car or cannot afford one.

For example, removing beef from any government event menu for one day, or going totally plant-based for one day a week would reduce carbon emissions.

Also, getting people into a bus and a train doesn't exactly lower carbon emissions, but it lowers carbon emissions per capita.

Meaning, you can fit more on a bus or train to rationalise how much carbon you put out into the world, compared to driving alone in a car.

That being said, perhaps removing the petrol and car allowances for ministers and lawmakers would also reduce carbon emissions as well.

Had Ku Nan actually wanted to reduce carbon emissions in KL, perhaps he would have asked the Mass Rapid Transit to build a station right outside Parliament?

Anyone who has travelled along the line would have seen that it is perhaps doable, so why didn't it happen?

It would have reduced a staggering amount of carbon from the atmosphere since everyone working in Parliament would have had access without the need for a car or even outriders.

Even if the prime minister needed increased security on the train fitting 1,200 people, he could have had one carriage for himself and his bodyguards, while having an estimated 900 civilians still able to occupy the same train and cutting net carbon emissions.

Of course, at the same time, all the lawmakers would have to put up with passengers reading the papers and heckling them right there and then over whatever flub they reportedly said the day before.

I'm personally not sure if that is a pro or a con for everyday Malaysians, but I'll put it in the "pro" section since it would be direct interaction between citizens and lawmakers without having to attend a ceramah and listening to the latter speak for two hours without taking questions.

But all this is not to say that the DBKL and other local councils haven't taken steps to lower carbon emissions.

The elevated walkways around Kuala Lumpur, and the car-free weekends, are testaments to that fact.

The move to reuse, reduce and recycle plastic bags and containers are also a move in the right direction, even if yours truly keeps forgetting to bring a tumbler every time he ends up at Starbucks.

Yes, we should lower carbon emissions, but perhaps Ku Nan could start small and make it a policy for DBKL staff to take public transport to work. That would definitely lower carbon emissions.

Hafidz Baharom is a public relations practitioner. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com