The absence of statistics about the number of people maimed or injured in the high accident rate in Ops Sikap V is an example of the lack of government seriousness and professionalism to end the national crisis of road carnage and trauma in Malaysia
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Friday): Last Sunday, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said that apart from Malaysia, “there is no place in the world where accidents and deaths are so high”.
Yet all the Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy could say after
Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting which discussed the Hari Raya holidays road
carnage during the 12-day Ops Sikap V is that the government is undertaking
“a thorough study be done on each of the fatal accidents which occurred
during the Hari Raya season so as to build up a database which could prove
useful in charting future strategies to reduce road accidents”.
The Cabinet Committee on Road Safety had been a dismal failure, as it not only failed to reach its target, but saw road fatalities increased by leaps and bounds, resulting in 70,749 killed (averaging 5,442 fatalities a year) and a total of 537,689 people injured/maimed in the 13 years from 1990 to 2002.
As the government had been studying the 70,749 road fatalities in the past 13 years, why must it study the 213 deaths in the 12-day Ops Sikap V before coming out with a National Road Safety Strategy and Plan to remove Malaysia from the dubious honour for topping the world’s list for road carnage all-the-year-round?
This is the latest illustration of the lack of seriousness of the Transport Minister to tackle the long-standing and worsening problem of road carnage in Malaysia.
Is Chan Kong Choy now the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety, or is the Cabinet Committee currently headless or has it been dissolved? When such basic information is not available, how can anyone believe that the government is serious and professional in ending the road carnage in the country?
In fact, the absence of statistics about the number of people maimed or injured, whether daily or for the whole period, in the high accident rate in Ops Sikap V is a further example of the lack of government seriousness and professionalism to end the national crisis of road carnage and trauma in Malaysia
There are many other instances. Statistics show that road crashes in Malaysia disproportionately harm low-income groups because pedestrians, bicycle and motor-cycle-riders are the most frequent casualties and form the most “vulnerable” victims of the road carnage as illustrated by the following breakdown of 5,887 road fatalities last year:
2002 Road Fatalities:
The 648 pedestrians, 3,030 motor-cyclists and 397 pillion-riders, 235 bicyclists and 33 pillion-riders, add up to 4,343 or 73.8% of the total casualties of the road carnage last year.
The statistics of the past few years demonstrate that this group of “vulnerable road users” (VRU) from the low-income brackets consistently make up some three-quarters of all road carnage victims in the past six years:
The “vulnerable road users” low-income group of victims of the road carnage, namely the pedestrians, bicyclists and motor-cyclists and the pillion riders constitute well beyond 70 per cent and at one stage reach as high as 78% of the road carnage per year if bus passengers are included.
The policy-makers have not sufficiently focused on the social problem that some 70 to 78 per cent of the road carnage in the past six years were non-motorists from the low-income group, where the loss of a breadwinner would cause enormous hardships to the surviving families.
It is a grave injustice as well as unacceptable human losses and economic costs to the nation that in the past six years between 1997 to 2002, 26,662 able-bodied Malaysians from the “vulnerable road users” low-income brackets, most of whom would be youngsters, had been killed in preventable traffic accidents.
DAP calls on the Cabinet next Wednesday to revisit this issue and to declare the high accident rate and fatalities as a national crisis requiring it to be given top national priority by the government and society. But the government must take the first step by demonstrating that there is the political will and full Ministerial responsibility and accountability to beat the national crisis of the road carnage.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman