Faced with the choice of having to shell out a minimum RM300 for infringing the law or paying say RM50 to overlook the offence, the smart money would be on the unwritten "escape clause".
TAWAU: The Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2012 which proposes higher fines for traffic offences from a “no fixed amount” to a minimum of RM300 is guaranteed to have drivers reaching for the wallets in Sabah when they are stopped on the road.
Traffic offenders in the country have already made it a habit to pay off traffic police who are ready to turn a blind eye for some inducement.
Faced with the choice of having to shell out a minimum RM300 for infringing the law or paying say RM50 to overlook the offence, the smart money would be on the unwritten “escape clause”.
Tawau MP Chua Soon Bui is among those who believe that while the intention is good, the conditions in the country do not permit such ill-thought plans to bring down the high incidence of traffic accidents.
The blanket RM300 fine covers such offences as unapproved number plates (RM300-RM3,000), invalid driving licence (RM300-RM2,000), speeding (RM300-RM2,000), expired or no Puspakom permit (RM300-RM2,000), illegal import of foreign cars (RM300-RM5,000), and those who disobey traffic police instructions (RM300-RM2,000).
The amended bill also requires electric bicycle cyclist to obtain driving licences before using them on public roads. The minimum age to use these cycles is 17-year-old and the electric bicycle engines are limited to 0.25 kW or a maximum speed of 25 kilometer per hour.
Chua said the implementation of the minimum fine would have a far-reaching detrimental impact on motorists and transportation operators in Sabah where the average income for the lower income families is around RM500.
She said while she condemned reckless drivers and agreed that those who caused fatal accidents should be heavily penalised under the law, the implementation of a minimum fine of RM300 was not going to decrease the incidences of accidents.
Chua who is also Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice president noted that many Sabahans had described it as yet another shrewd ‘money-making’ approach by the government to squeeze money out of the people in the guise of reducing road accidents.
She said instead of ‘victimising’ and burdening the people further, the government should strive to find out the root causes of the prevailing road accidents and seek public consultations to prevent and to minimize them.
While urging the ministry concerned to instill civic consiousness among road users and drivers, especially the young, Chua also said the Works Ministry should provide better and safer roads with lanes for cyclists and motorcyclists.
She also urged traffic authorities to put up more signs warning motorists of cameras noting their speed as studies had shown that such measures were more effective in getting drivers to slow down rather than catching them using the hand-held speed detectors.
“Many countries also implement the notification system to warn the drivers of cameras ahead,” she said.