Mat Rempits: Law too harsh to be enforced?

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By Ravinder Singh

The Minister of Transport must tell the public why the Road Transport Act is not being used against the Mat Rempits. Is it because the mandatory fine of RM5,000 for the first offence is too harsh? Those who are unable to pay will have to serve time in prison and Barisan Nasional may lose some votes as a result. Is that why the government is giving them face?

Numerous accidents involving these hooligans have been reported over the years. Just two days ago, a homeless man was decapitated after being run over by illegal racers in Shah Alam. According to a news report, one bike knocked him down and another ran over him.

The Mat Rempit menace has been with us for about 25 years. They are now called “samseng jalanan”. The re-branding was done a few years ago to reflect their aggressive and dangerous behaviour. But other than the re-branding, nothing has been done seriously to take them off the roads.

The authorities are certainly not helpless for the lack of a law to address the problem. Section 42 of the Road Transport Act provides as follows:

(1) Any person who drives a motor vehicle on a road recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which having regard to all the circumstances (including the nature, condition and size of the road and the amount of traffic which is or might be expected to be on the road) is dangerous to the public shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a fine of not less than five thousand ringgit and not more than fifteen thousand ringgit and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a fine of not less than ten thousand ringgit and not more than twenty thousand ringgit.

(2) The court shall order particulars of any conviction under this section to be endorsed on any driving licence held by the person convicted.

(3) A person convicted under this section shall be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of not less than two years from the date of the conviction and, in the case of a second or subsequent conviction, be disqualified for a period of ten years from the date of the conviction.

The law shows Parliament had the intention to make roads safer by teaching reckless drivers a lesson. Was this intention for real or just to placate the public by having a law on paper?

All the excuses for not being able to control the Mat Rempits do not hold water. It looks like the enforcement agencies either have no heart to enforce Section 42 against them or under political instructions not to do so.

If a law is to be worth the paper it’s written on, it must be enforced continuously, not just during campaigns.

Mat Rempits have been rounded up from time to time, but why are they let off without being charged?

Ravinder Singh is an FMT reader.

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