Cabinet should sack members of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety who had been sleeping on the job in showing utter indifference to the annual carnage on the roads for the past several years
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has expressed anger and sadness at the horrific three-vehicle accident at 63 km of the Jalan Kuala Lipis-Merapoh on Sunday which killed 14 passengers and has demanded full investigations.
On the eleven days of Ops Sikap V, the total death toll on the roads in this year’s Hari Raya holidays have reached 203, which is even higher than last year – a cruel reminder to the Prime Minister that good-hearted statements and appeal to Malaysians to “balik kampong: safely before the holidays started could not be achieved with just good intentions. This equally applies to his other well-intentioned statements, whether for “a clean, incorruptible, modest and beyond suspicion” government or asking the people to tell him the truth.
Abdullah’s proposal for a public forum to discuss the high number of accidents, especially during festive seasons, is a step in the direction but is woefully inadequate to deal with the long-standing and grave problem of the road carnage not only during holidays but all-the-year-round.
Abdullah must be prepared to grapple with some of the root causes of the problem of road carnage in Malaysia – starting with the Cabinet at its meeting tomorrow sacking members of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety who had been sleeping on the job in showing utter indifference to the annual human toll and some RM6 billion damage a year caused by road accidents in the past several years.
Does any member of the public know who is the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Raod Safety which is supposed to spearhead the nation-wide road safety campaign, or who are the members of the Cabinet Committee? It will be no surprise if there are Cabinet Ministers who do not know the answers as well.
The Cabinet Committee on Road Safety became a national joke and completely disappeared from public vision after its Chairman made the infamous remark about the high road carnage more than five 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)
As a result, the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety was a colossal failure in the past five years. This was why on 27th January 1999, I had proposed that Abdullah, who was then the Deputy Prime Minister, should take over as head of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety to provide sorely-needed leadership to reverse the alarming rise in road accidents and deaths in the country. My proposal was not acted upon and the rot continued for five long years with great cost to the country in human lives involving some 25,000 avoidable deaths, enormous human pain and sufferings and as well as property losses exceeding RM30 billion.
What signal will the Cabinet send out to end the shocking road carnage during festivities and all-the-year-round at its meeting tomorrow?
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman