(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): It is sad and tragic that the toll of road accidents and deaths continue to rise during the Hari Raya festivities, with another 19 killed on the roads on Thursday, 21st January 1999, the 10th day of Ops Statik II, bringing the total to 148 casualties. Out of 655 road accidents throughout the country, 151 people were injured including 50 seriously.
As in previous days, motorcyclists and pillion riders were the main casualties accounting for 13 deaths with the rest being three pedestrians, two car drivers/passengers and a cyclist. This brings the total number of motorcyclists and pillion riders killed since the operation began on January 12 to 94, representing 63.5 per cent of the death toll.
What is as alarming as the rising toll of road accidents and deaths
is the continued indifference of the Transport Minister to this daily
national disaster which is the direct responsibility of his Ministry.
Why is Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik as the Cabinet Minister directly responsible for road safety completely indifferent to the mounting road accidents and deaths during the Hari Raya festivities?
The Transport Ministry which he heads is suffused with total despair about the shockingly high toll of accidents and deaths on Malaysia’s roads, as Liong Sik’s typical comment to this daily national disaster squandering human lives, talents and resources, is:
"We have done what others have been doing around the world. In spite of numerous road safety campaigns the number of accident cases have been increasing.
"What else can we do, if people want to die?"
As head of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety, Liong Sik had shown no interest or concern in the last ten days when there had been 6,403 accidents and 148 deaths.
Nobody knows whether the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety had even met before the Hari Raya holidays or had become defunct under Liong Sik’s leadership.
This is a most irresponsible and unacceptable Ministerial performance, even worse than his notorious absence from Parliament, as he is trifling with the property, safety and life of Malaysians on the roads by his indifference.
The country needs a new head for the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety who can provide a vision and leadership in the war against mounting toll of road accidents and deaths, especially during the Hari Raya and Chinese New Year holidays.
Malaysia needs a Road Safety supremo who is not just concerned as to which company gets contracts for lucrative media advertisements in the road safety campaign but who can provide the leadership and inspiration to a national campaign to effectively cut down road accidents and deaths.