Malaysians, including Ministers and media, seem to have lost sustained interest in the crisis of road carnage after the Hari Raya fatalities until another spiral of avoidable road deaths in the Christmas-New Year holidays end of the month and Chinese New Year holidays next month
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Sunday): Malaysians, including Ministers and the media, seem to have lost sustained interest in the crisis of road carnage after the Hari Raya holidays fatalities until another spiral of avoidable road deaths in the Christmas-New Year holidays end of the month and Chinese New Year holidays next month.
There is a need for the government, in particular the Transport Minister, Datuk Chong Kong Chai and the Works Minister, Datuk S. Samy Vellu to provide continuing and dynamic leadership to ensure that the country does not lose sustained interest and focus on the road carnage in the country, until the totally unacceptable high rate of accidents, deaths and injuries are at least halved.
This should be the objective of a National Road Safety Plan, and it is most shocking that after years and even decades of such high accident, traffic fatalities and injuries rates in the country, the government has not come out with any National Road Safety Plan with specific targets and time-frames with regard to reduction of incidence of accidents, traffic fatalities and injuries in the country.
The Transport Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy should be frank and truthful and should not play games with the people with numbers and statistics. For instance, he told the media after opening an International Conference on Chinese Culture in Kuala Lumpur on 29th November that there had been improvement in road fatalities rate in the country, with 4.8 road accident-related deaths per 10,000 vehicles recorded last year as compared to 8.4 deaths per 10,000 vehicles in 1996.
This is a meaningless measure when Malaysia continues to have one of the world’s highest traffic fatality rate calculated in terms of deaths per 10,000 persons, as confirmed by a recent United Nations study.
What is the use of Kong Choy talking about improvement in road fatalities from 8.4 to 4.8 per 10,000 vehicles from 1996 to 2002, when the raw and brutal figures of preventable road deaths are 6,304 for 1996, 6,302 for 1997, 5,744 for 1998, 5,791 for 1999, 6,035 for 2000, 5,849 for 2001 and 5,891 for 2002 – averaging for the seven-year period 5,988 killed a year and 16.4 road deaths EVERY DAY for the past seven years!
Instead of trying to miminise the gravity of the high road fatalities, Kong Choy should be impressing on the people and government that the country is facing a national crisis because of the unacceptably high loss of human lives and human capital as well as the economic costs to the nation.
I visited the website of the Works Ministry and found to my horror that although it has a special section on Road Safety, the last time it was updated was 5th July 2001! (http://www.kkr.gov.my/bpj/safety/safety1.htm)
There can be greater indictment on the double lack of seriousness by the Works Ministry and generally the government on the national crisis of road carnage in the country and the use of IT to provide more efficient public services to the citizens of Malaysia.
It is time the government pull up its socks to deliver efficient, effective and honest services to the people, not just in word but in actual deed.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman