If you are involved in a motor accident, you hope and pray that the emergency services can get to you on time to release you, if you are trapped in your vehicle, or to rush you to hospital for medical treatment.
That is one of the reasons for the existence of emergency lanes along our highways.
Just over a year ago, on May 22, an accident occurred at Km222 of the North-South Highway, close to the Pedas-Linggi service area. An ambulance was called to attend to the injured, but its route was blocked by motorists using the emergency lane.
It was postulated that the late arrival of the ambulance contributed to the death of the two motorcyclists in the accident.
Fast forward to July 2017, and a news report enraged many Malaysians when they learnt that Yusoff Ayob, the deputy director-general of the Road Transport Department (RTD), had been let off lightly after he admitted to driving along the emergency lane of Lingkaran Putrajaya last Oct 7.
Not only did he bring disrepute to his department, especially as he was caught on film committing the offence, he also sent a senior aide to represent him in court. That is sheer arrogance.
When did it become acceptable for someone accused of committing a crime to ask a proxy to take his place in court?
The implications of this deception, or misrepresentation, are wide. Ordinary people who are charged with a similar crime have to present themselves in court whether they like it or not. What makes Yusoff so special?
If Yusoff is embarrassed about appearing in public, he should have thought about this on the day he drove on the emergency lane. Why subject someone else to the humiliation and shame?
As a senior government official, Yusoff acted irresponsibly. What sort of message does this send to road users and the millions of young Malaysians who are now learning to drive and will soon get their licences?
Why was he fined only RM600? Does honour, integrity and responsibility mean nothing to men in office? Do the men and women in the higher echelons of the civil service think they can break the law and get off lightly?
Why the double standard? Malaysian drivers are not known to be law abiding and there have been many calls for better enforcement of the law.
If Yusoff had to face a jail term, could he pay someone else to take his place behind bars?
To educate Malaysians, those in positions of responsibility have to set an example.
Mariam Mokhtar is an FMT columnist.
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