Mahaleel should take over the Transport Ministry as the country cannot afford a "hands-off" and "minds-off" Minister and launch a national campaign to slash road fatalities and accident rate by 50 per cent within 12 months

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Wednesday): I had criticised Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik as a "hands-off" and "minds-off" Transport Minister, who is the first to breach the 14-point code of ethics for Cabinet members spelt out by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad at the first Cabinet meeting on Dec. 15, 1999.

Last Wednesday, 29th December 1999, I referred to the statement by Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that at the first meeting of the new Cabinet the Prime Minister had directed Cabinet Ministers to carry out their duties with collective responsibility, loyalty, efficiency and dedication as well as to be  "hands-on" in their work.

I had said that the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik however had shown that he was not a "hands-on" Minister but even worse, was a "hands-off" and "minds-off" Minister in his utter indifference to the 73 road deaths in six days of "Ops Statik IV", although he should be the Cabinet Minister who should be most concerned about the mayhem on our roads.

Liong Sik has continued his "hands-off" and "minds-off" charge of the Transport Ministry while the death toll for the twelve days of Ops Statik IV has almost doubled to climb to 130, with twelve deaths on Monday - the third highest since the operation was launched on Dec. 23.
Even the Prime Minister had been moved by the holidays road carnage to caution drivers  yesterday that their own  impatience on the road could  be a potential killer during trips  home to celebrate the upcoming festivals.

Mahathir said arriving safely at their destination 10 minutes  late would make much difference than not arriving at all, out of  impatience and recklessness.

Such an advice is not going to reduce the road carnage but at least it showed the Prime Ministerís concern at the totally unnecessary and avoidable death toll on the roads - while Liong Sik as Transport Minister continues to be "hands-off" and "minds-off" when he should be devising a new strategy to cut down such criminal waste of human lives and costs on the roads.
It was reported today that Perusahaan Otomobil  Nasional Bhd's (Proton) is aiming to achieve a  zero-accident rate among its staff  with its overall safety programme comprising  training and safety awareness.

Proton  chief executive officer, Tengku Datuk Mahaleel Tengku Ariff  said its biggest campaign success so far was reducing the fatal  motorcycle accidents among its staff from seven cases in 1996  to three last year.

The overall motorcycle accident rates were also reduced from  25 cases in 1996 to 14 cases in 1999. However fatal car  accident rates involving Proton's employees increased to three  last year from one in 1996.

Speaking at the launch of prudent driving campaign during the  festive season yesterday, Mahaleel said the company had also  conducted advanced riding and driving courses for its over 2000  employees to improve their riding and driving skills.

Proton and Mahaleel should be commended for the  campaign to promote zero-accident rate among their staff - a campaign which the Transport Minister should be promoting for the country.
I seriously propose that Mahathir take over the Transport Ministry as the country cannot afford a "hands-off" and "minds-off" Minister, and may be appoint Mahaleel to be responsible for launching a national campaign to promote if not a zero-accident rate at least slash the road fatalities and accident rate by 50 per cent in 12 months.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman