Time to take the wheel | Selangor Times
Issue 118


Time to take the wheel
Writer: Patrick Teoh
Published: Fri, 11 Nov 2011

For a very long time now there has been almost complete anarchy on Malaysian roads. There appear to be no laws governing traffic, nor does there appear to be anyone bothered to obey them if there were.

I am sure you see, as I do, on a daily basis motorcycles and motorcars ignoring red lights, double lines and stop signs.

Most times right before the eyes of traffic police who seem to always be looking the other way.

Okay, let’s play some blame games regarding this chaos on Malaysian roads. Who is to blame for the sad state of traffic disobedience? Who is responsible for implementing and enforcing some semblance of law and order for Malaysian motorists? I can almost hear some of you shouting, “The police la!

Useless baargers! It’s their job what!” True or not? That would be the initial reaction from most people I think. After all, they are the police and they are supposed to enforce the law. And that includes traffic laws.

But they don’t seem to be doing too great a job. A drive around the busy streets of Kuala Lumpur and/or Petaling Jaya and its surroundings will attest to that. And of course we all know about their limp attempts at controlling and enforcing parking rules at the airports. KLIA as well as LCCT.

So are the police alone responsible for our traffic woes? Maybe it is the responsibility of the driving schools to give better training before they approve and pass out to Malaysian roads indisciplined and poorly tutored drivers. Or is it the responsibility of the ministry of transport to make sure that the criteria for being approved to drive/ride on public roads is up to some mark, which can erase our dubious reputation of having one of the highest road death scores in the world?

Who is responsible? I guess in the final analysis we are responsible. We know what the rules are. We just don’t give a crap. Why? I guess it’s because we’ve learnt that we can get away with not giving a crap. About almost everything.

Take a look at the latest “hot” topic. Our teaching the kids Math and Science in English and/or Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese, Tamil or whatever. The whole big mess started years ago when some wiseguy in his infinite wisdom decided to tell everybody that the English language is a colonial shackle that we must shake off, and that Malay was our national language and therefore must be protected and blah… blah… blah.

And so we threw out a system that was working just fine and pretended that we were all nationalistic and proud of our national language and that that alone would be enough to propel Bahasa Malaysia to the status of a global language of communication.

Well, some of us didn’t believe that at all, but we all kept quiet. We didn’t really give a crap la. Either children all grown up and done with school and universities. Or children not born yet so no need to worry yet. Then suddenly it came crashing down. Huh? Our school children can’t speak the international language of communication?

Our university graduates are unemployable? What happened? Who is responsible for this mess? Must be the government la. The ministry of education. Or is it anybody’s responsibility to take charge of our lives and our future except us?

As the PPSMI issue has proven beyond what Bersih 2.0 and others started, things start to happen when we take charge as the only element that really matters in the final equation.

We collectively told the authorities that we weren’t happy about how things were being done. And suddenly the dingdonging swung things our way. Now, if this carries on, I think we might just be able to do our part in determining the kind of future we want for ourselves, our families, our children and our country come the next general elections.

Wouldn’t that be cool? For once.

Who is responsible for the policing of the traffic rules on our roads? Us.

Who is responsible for the education that we deserve for our children? Us.

Who is responsible for the kind of country we want to live in? Us.

I guess, as in the past, goodies will still be thrown at us. As if to say, “Nah! Don’t worry. We’ll take care of things for you. Just let us do things our way!” And it will be tempting.

But I think it will be fun to test out just how far we can go in taking the reins ourselves and steering things the way we
think we should be going.


 Selangor Times



Also by Patrick Teoh:

Quit the wishy-washy themes

few weeks ago my daughter who lives in Singapore sent me the link to a Singapore National Day promo video. 

It has to be bleep, bleep and bleep!

When I first coined the word “Niamah!” a lot of people asked me what it meant. Well, for those of you who don’t speak Cantonese, when spoken aloud the word means your mom.

Malaysia a safe country: The spinning goes on

The morning newspaper had on the front page a story about security in housing estates. How foreign guards are better than local ones. How illegal foreigners are getting jobs as security guards. How if we pay peanuts we get monkeys as security for our family and property.

Those damn illegal parkers

By the time you sit down to read this, the memories of Bersih 3.0 would be more than two weeks old. But I’ll bet that people will still be talking about the rally. Exchanging experiences. Telling some tall tales.

Transforming to what?

Just a few days ago I was driving past the Umno building in Kuala Lumpur. It was raining and the infamous bottle-neck traffic jam in that area of the city was worse than normal. I was stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic right beside the Umno building.

Absurd cost of … everything

Well, Valentine’s Day has come and gone. Along with the perennial, prerequisite hoo-hah that accompanies it.

End of the world?

In just a couple more weeks the Year of the Dragon is going to roll in. For the Chinese flers it is always an extra-auspicious period of the Chinese Lunar calendar. So what we can expect this Chinese New Year is an even more garish display of the colours gold and red in the shopping malls. Actually, the incessant Chinese New Year musak is already playing endlessly. Petaling Street vendors are going to drag on their sales of made-in-China new year “must-haves” until the last minute of the 15th day of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon.

Your right, my right, and all the ‘goreng’

In just a couple of weeks it will be the new year. Yes, 2012. Another year. But as with every new year for the past decade, I would say we Malaysians step rather tentatively into the next 365-day period.

Come on, get happy!

The past couple of weeks has been sort of tough. On the old brain I mean. Mine. Having to remember lines from a script that is not exactly Shakespearean quality and having to say them while moving around without knocking into the furniture on stage. Things were so stressful that I missed the big event of the month: the announcement of the Budget by the prime minister!

Manifestoes un-manifest

Last month I attended a fundraising dinner for a political party. For an opposition party la. When have we ever heard of the ruling coalition ever needing to organise a FUND-raising party? No, right? No need what. Fund-giving got la. Especially near elections time. But I digress.

Conditional love…?

JUST a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a Tweet message in which she referred to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as our Conditional Prime Minister. I laughed out loud when I received that. What a wonderfully apt description of the man, I thought.

The Great Clean-Up

For the past week or more the whole of the Klang Valley has been quavering with excitement, fear, anger, frustration and maybe a little despair.People have been arrested. Threats have been issued by both government and normally level-headed Malaysians. Balai Polis stores are bulging at the seams from overstocking of bright yellow t-shirts which everybody wants but cannot have. After all they’re perfectly good shirts. 100% cotton some more.

Harsh realities of this flawed paradise

As we turn the corner and head for the second half of 2011, things sure ain’t looking that hunky-dory. My family and I enjoyed a few days in the remote beaches of Cherating, Pahang. Those four carefree days of rushing waves and gentle breezes and oh-so-calming peace and quiet were elixirs for the much-stressed average Malaysian soul.

Who copied who?

By the time you read this the good folks in the little red dot, Singapore, would have been to the polls and either a) elected the almost all-powerful PAP again as their government of choice, or b) elected a much younger, more change-oriented government from one of the opposition parties like The Workers Party or the Singapore Democratic Party.

He who laughs last…

As I sit down to write this a lot of funny things are happening in my country. Sex scandals. Snap elections threats. Detailed explanations of when a Bribe is not a Bribe but a Gift.











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