Will the road carnage for the Hari Raya/Christmas/New Year/Chinese New Year holidays be equal to two to three times the death toll for the Bali terrorist bombings which killed some 200 people on Oct. 12?
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): The death toll for the Hari Raya holidays exceeded the death toll of the Bali terrorist bombings on Oct. 12 which killed some 200 people.
During the recent Ops Sikap III which was conducted between Nov 29 and Dec. 13, police recorded an increase in the number of accidents with 12,239 accidents – an average of 816 accidents daily and 285 fatalities or more than the casualties of the Bali terrorist bombings.
There was world-wide horror, revulsion and condemnation at the loss of some 200 innocent lives in the Bali bombings, but the 285 avoidable and unnecessary deaths on Malaysian roads in the 15 days spanning the Hari Raya holidays failed to elicit the outrage needed to end such carnage but merely the stereotype and perfunctory outpouring of concern recycled year-in-and-year out over the high incidence of holiday traffic acccidents and deaths which are immediately forgotten the very second they are made by government leaders!
But one person stood out in the road carnage which is worse than the Bali terrorist bombings by his sheer indifference and disinterest when he should be most concerned – the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik, in a shocking display of Ministerial incompetence, irresponsibility and negligence.
As Transport Minister, Liong Sik should be the most visible Minister to spearhead the campaign for road safety and turn the tide against every major national festivity becoming a national massacre worse than the Bali terrorist bombings – but he was in fact the most invisible Minister on this issue as he had long lost interest as evident from his cynical statement four years ago:
"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?" (Sun 4.2.1998)
If Liong Sik can convince himself that “people want to die”, then this is the perfect justification for his utter indifference and disinterest about the mounting road carnage during national festivities and this may also be the reason why the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety under him had disappeared from public vision, unheard in the past few years as if it had “given up the ghost”, when it should be the leading agency to cut down the road carnage during festive seasons!
The question all Malaysians must ask is whether the road carnage for the current Hari Raya/Christmas/New Year/Chinese New Year holidays will be equal to two to three times the casualties of the Bali terrorist bombings which killed some 200 people on Oct. 12?
The Cabinet should appoint a new Cabinet Committee on Road Safety with a dynamic Chairman who has not “psycho-ed” himself into believing that “people want to die” and run out of ideas as to how to reduce road accidents and deaths to stop the road carnage at every national festivity.
As a wake-up call, the government should release the annual data of total
number of traffic accidents and deaths during the national festivities from
the year Liong Sik became Transport Minister in 1986, which will show that
the longer Liong Sik is Transport Minister the more people die on the roads
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman