FIRST off, I’d like to congratulate the Pakatan Harapan government especially its minister of transport for sticking to the Automated Enforcement System (AES) to enforce traffic laws. It is perhaps the smartest thing they have done so far in terms of making long-term change for the better.
However, this move is not without detractors. Most notably, the Amanah deputy youth leader, Muhammad Faiz Fadzil. Faiz believes that the AES will increase the burden of living costs and further the suffering of Malaysians.
Personally, if getting fined for speeding is considered a living cost, we are probably measuring living costs wrongly. And also, I’m sure anyone speeding on a highway at 130kph is pretty much deserving of the added burden of a speeding ticket.
True, other nations have implemented higher speed limits when it comes to highways. However, it also depends on the design of the roads.
There are those who promote Germany’s Autobahn as an example. Well, when you design a highway during the Nazi Germany era under Adolf Hitler to also be a racing track and race car test site, then sure – have at it and speed all you want.
I assure you Malaysia’s North-South Expressway was not designed for the same specifications, or we could ask PLUS to clarify.
However, if there is a demand for such an increase to be in line with other countries, then let us do so. Let us follow the examples of international standards.
So, if highways see an increased speed limit to 150kph like Germany, then townships and cities should also see their speed limits reduced to 50kph like Germany. You cannot take one without the other, that would be hypocritical.
To paraphrase the Merchant of Venice, if you want your pound of flesh under the law, now you will receive the law in full.
That being said, the AES needs to be implemented where it really matters which is the city centres and residential areas. More people are killed and injured in central urban areas over speeding and total disregard of traffic rules in these areas more than anywhere else.
The AES would be a godsend to enforce speed limits at school zones, housing areas and even in townships where the focus should be on protecting pedestrians by enforcing the 50kph limit as in Germany, ensuring the adherence to traffic lights and also ensuring that zebra crossings remain safe.
At the same time, the penalties for speeding in residential zones are not just a fine. It is also a mandatory jail sentence.
So by all means, let us enforce that as well for those heartless people who are in such a rush to work without caring for the safety of others.
Furthermore, with the implementation and enforcement of traffic laws from speed limits to traffic lights, it is a sure fire way to get Malaysians to do the one thing they should be doing – changing their attitudes about driving.
There is a nonchalance when it comes to breaking the speed limit and even illegal parking in Malaysia that you would not find in more developed nations.
Which is probably why Singaporeans drive up here to let loose rather than speed in their own country, and why Malaysians probably make up the bulk of the 400,000 traffic fines totalling S$32 million in Singapore as of Feb 4 this year.
By the way, if you haven’t paid your Singaporean summonses, bear in mind your car may be banned from entering from April 1, and it won’t be a prank.
All the above being said, it is time Malaysians get serious about adhering to the rule of law.
If smokers now have to move three metres away for a cigarette or be fined for it, then the rest of us must also adhere to laws of slowing down in front of schools and in housing estates, stop doing U-Turn’s at traffic lights when it says you are not supposed to, and pay attention to pedestrians on a zebra crossing.
Look at it this way, a little corruption leads to bigger ones.
I am sure that politicians them-selves have noted they have yet to pay their traffic summonses and even Deputy Minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa has apologised for his children using his official car to park in a handicapped parking lot at a hospital but he should be fined for it.
And he should not be letting his children use his official government car, for that matter.
What I am saying is, if leaders need to set a higher standard, then Malaysians need to set a baseline for those standards.
We should not set it so low that we want discounts for fines, or even gripe about not being able to “settle” with an AES camera compared to a roadblock.
Hafidz Baharom is a public relations practitioner. Comments: firstname.lastname@example.org