Articles, Opinions & Views: From basikal lajak to kereta lajak - five issues By Andrew Sia


 
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“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

Photobucket
He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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From basikal lajak to kereta lajak - five issues By Andrew Sia
Saturday, May 14, 2022

Malaysiakini : The whole lajak controversy has brought out the rot that’s been slowly eating away at our country.

1) What are the cops doing?

In the mid-1970s, a police officer in Teluk Intan issued a summons of RM10 (a grand sum in those days!) to my friend Gilbert Lee for riding a bicycle without a bell.

“They even checked the front light, rear reflector and the brakes,” he recalled.

If back then, the police were so hardworking to ensure cyclists obeyed all the laws, what has happened now? The cops claim that it’s “very difficult” to catch lajak boys who always find ways to escape.

Really? Are naughty boys on bicycles really able to outwit and outrun a team of traffic cops on high-powered motorcycles? If so, how will they catch real criminals? Or terrorists?

Or is the real reason because our cops prefer to focus on motorists? Because the delicate verbal dance of “sekarang macam mana mau tolong?” (how to help now?) is, shall we say, more “attractive” than chasing after lajak boys?

2) Road safety classes for kids

In Germany, it’s common to see primary school kids cycling safely to school. How do they do it? 

For one, the German Accident Prevention Organisation (DVW) does “learning by playing” road safety classes with mini traffic signs and crash test dummies.

Characters like Captain Bluebear tell funny stories about road dangers. A real truck demonstrates how a whole school class can “disappear” in the vehicle’s blind spot as it turns.

I’ve not heard of such courses done in Malaysia on a large scale. Yet this is exactly what politicians, who claim to “defend and protect” a certain race, should be doing to stop lajak cyclists from killing themselves.

So what will happen when the kids grow up? We already know the answer to that because many adult drivers and motorcyclists don’t seem to understand simple road dangers such as blind spots. That’s why we are a world “champion” in the rate of traffic accidents with one road death every 84 minutes.

3) Lack of discipline

In the good old days, if kids behaved badly, parents would “rotan” or cane them properly. That would knock some common sense into them, yeah?

Some people say we can’t blame parents for the lajak problem. Why? Because, oh the poor folks are too tired or busy trying to earn a living. Or, the low-cost flats are too crammed (whose fault is that?) and so the parents have to allow their kids to endanger their lives (and that of others) by roaming the streets at 3am on their basikal lajak. 

I sympathise with their hardship but then again, why are other poor parents able to discipline their offspring?

Besides, the police already warned parents (back in 2020) that they can be fined up to RM20,000 or jailed up to five years if they neglected their basikal lajak kids. So were the police just joking? Was this yet another law that was meant to be ignored?

It’s not just the kids that need some discipline. The next time there is another lajak accident, the police should try putting the parents in the lockup, for say two or three nights. I suspect that this may “wake up” lenient parents about their child-rearing responsibilities.

4) Road design/maintenance

In the Johor tragedy, the speed limit on the three-lane highway suddenly changed from 70kph to 50kph. But a probe by Miros (Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research) found that the signboard announcing this was hidden behind a Petronas signboard.

There were no speed breakers (many small speed bumps) either to signal drivers to slow down as the road crested a hill. To worsen matters, the accident area was dimly lit. A curving road fed into the highway and there were no orange road bollards to deter bicycles from surging straight onto the path of drivers.

These are all old problems with Malaysian road maintenance. Signboards hidden by tree branches because nobody bothers to trim them. Bushes planted thoughtlessly at junctions, blocking the sight of oncoming vehicles. Deep potholes left unrepaired, waiting to kill motorcyclists at night.

Do we need more tragedies before something is done? Sadly, nothing changes because we don’t vote for our local council officials. Instead, they answer only to the state government politicians who appoint them.

5) Kereta lajak, lori lajak

Back to the underaged MPV driver who rammed into two grass cutters in Kedah. It has been five days (since May 8) and there is still no news of the parents being charged. Was it just a PR statement by the MCA transport minister to placate those angry with him over how a Chinese driver was blamed for the whole Johor lajak tragedy?

But more seriously, while middle-class Malaysians like to condemn the two-wheeled terrors of basikal lajak, they may forget four-wheeled road menaces.

Political commentator Mariam Mokhtar says that Mat Lajak and Mat Rempit mostly seem to be of one race. Sure, nobody has heard of Ah Beng Lajak, but I can assure you that I have been a victim of Ah Beng road bullies in souped-up Hondas who love to intimidate other drivers with their blinding headlights and booming exhaust pipes.

These are what I call kereta lajak (driven by all races) that love to speed in housing areas while people are walking or cycling. Their mission in life is to see how fast they can “sapu” (sweep) a corner without giving a damn about what’s around it.

And what about the six or eight-wheeled road horrors? When driving on the highway on rainy nights, I often see buses clearly going beyond the speed limit even though they are carrying 20 or 30 lives on a slippery road.

On the four-lane highway between Sungai Buloh and Rawang, I have seen buses overtaking on the fourth (fastest) lane while lorries are on the third (second-fastest lane). Our highways can seem like Wild West cowboy country.

On May 12, a car slowed down and stopped behind a lorry on the highway. But another 20-tonne trailer laden with iron rods failed to brake on time, rammed into the car, and smashed it into the first lorry. The car burst into flames, killing all five university students inside.

Such is the general “tidak apa” lawlessness in this country, that we often hear of bus and lorry drivers doing extra trips and then keeping themselves awake with syabu or crystal meth. Have the laws been enforced against this great danger?

We can build the world’s second-tallest skyscraper again and again. But if we can’t tackle basic road safety, then we are still a backward country. 

So don’t just blame basikal lajak. We also have traffic threats with kereta lajak, bas lajak and lori lajak. It’s not just some kids who have an attitude problem, the adults may be guilty too.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:24 AM  
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