The hysteria over 'basikal lajak' - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, November 09, 2019
Malaysiakini : COMMENT| “But what I do I do because I like to do.” - Anthony Burgess, 'A Clockwork Orange'.
and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, in keeping with his
ministerial portfolio, should be applauded in his efforts to reach out
to the basikal lajak subculture. Attempting to understand these kids - instead of attempting to capitalise on the death of kids like Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi - is one of the better plays of the Pakatan Harapan government.
am sceptical of any government programmes to “guide” juveniles because
eventually they turn into indoctrination programmes, but let us see how
this plays out. External religious and political forces shape Malay kids from
working-class or middle-class backgrounds. What we are talking about
here is a host of variables that should not be dismissed by convenient
political and social bromides.
The reality is that those kids who
perished in the Johor bicycle tragedy were out looking for thrills, and
in their minds they were invulnerable. Isn’t it always like that when
you are very young? You think that nothing can hurt you or at the very
least, it will happen to someone else.
The woman who was acquitted
has to live with the fact that the kids are dead. She certainly did not
go out that day thinking that today was the day that she would run over
kids who were engaging in dangerous behaviour. So this idea that
stricter laws and getting all worked-up are going to make our roads
safer is delusional.
Young people are going to do dumb and
dangerous activities because kids have been doing that since we painted
our exploits on cave walls. We live in a culture that glorifies
thrill-seeking, and then wonder why people engage in such activity. Most
people watch the Fast and Furious films, for instance, and get
their kicks vicariously. Some people watch those films, mock the
inaccurate details and then street race for real.
usual, the state security apparatus is talking about cracking down on
parents and kids of this particular subculture. People are talking about
safety issues without realising there are deeper issues at play. The
kids who engage in this sort of activity are not worried about their
safety. They are certainly not worried about the safety of others.
fact, what attracts them to this is the danger. Carrying out dangerous
acts with your friends encourages a sense of a shared community.
Breaking the law, evading the police and other adults are part of the
communal experience, and sharing and relating the experience to other
kids, in turn, encourages behaviour which is not only dangerous, but
Add to this a family life without supervision or
too much supervision, and what we have is an explosive cocktail of
youthful invulnerability and the need for connection. Experts use terms
like “peer pressure” and what is needed is a secure family life, which
is probably true, but also ignores the reality that young people will
always do dumb and dangerous stuff.
When adult street racers race
their cars, they are not looking for safe tracks to satisfy their
adrenaline ”jones”. It is the same with kids, who have less power,
influence and impulse control.
People have been telling me that
the full force of the law should be applied to these kids and their
parents. Really? I often speak to young people who are part of the
various subcultures that most adults do not know exist. When I
volunteered at a drug rehabilitation centre, I spoke to many juveniles
about their experiences.
I know one kid who is a street racer
(from a very young age) who gets paid to ride a bike for another kid.
This is weird to me (not the getting paid part, but rather, where is the
glory in someone else riding your bike?) but the racing subculture has
many nooks and crannies which defy simple explanations by experts and
the state security apparatus.
Deputy inspector-general of police
Mazlan Mansor said, "The Royal Malaysian Police is an enforcement body.
We need a strict law for this issue (basikal lajak) and others
which can adversely affect public order and well-being.” Really? So the
PDRM is going to handle this issue like how they handle the Mat Rempit
issue or the numerous other juvenile delinquency issues that plague this
country - with a heavy boot and hypocrisy to match?
kids tell me that they read and hear of religious and political figures
breaking the law all the time and getting away with their crimes. They
look upon the state security apparatus as adults taking it out on them
because they have no power, except for the way they choose to live their
lives or getting away with the crimes they commit.
grow out of the subcultures they choose to inhabit for a time, but some
move on to other more toxic cultures because they never manage to
escape that spiral of delinquency brought about by unstable family
backgrounds or addictions, but dismissed by so many people as a "lack of
I hope that Syed Saadiq focuses on this issue, and
not merely use it as just another avenue to burnish his brand. Sports
is big business in this country, but what he should be focusing on are
the issues facing young people. And I do not mean middle-class young
people who are pissed off that their votes did not magically create a
"new Malaysia". I mean the young people who have no idea that
their world is not the small, often brutish, world they inhabit,
restrained by race, class and religion.
I hope the young minister
gives them a fighting chance to avail themselves of the opportunities
and privileges he has had, and not further box them into an existence
where the only avenue of escape is the open road with no brakes.
Some kids are lucky enough to have safety nets, some kids not.