Sunday, 10 November, 2002

Malaysia minister in speeding row

By Jonathan Kent
BBC correspondent in Kuala Lumpur

The chief minister of the Malaysian state of Melaka, Mohammed Ali Rustam, has called for the speed limit on Malaysian roads to be raised for the drivers of luxury cars.
He was speaking after agreeing to settle more than 20 summonses issued on his own two official vehicles.
But Malaysia's government wants to send a clear signal to VIPs and politicians that they are not above the law.
The country's deputy prime minister has ordered dozens of the country's rich elite, who between them have amassed thousands of unpaid motoring fines, to reach into their own pockets and pay up.
Mr Mohammed says that speed limits slow down important people, and that the limit should be raised from 110 to 160km/h ( 68 to 100 mph) for the drivers of high-powered cars.
He says it is not suitable for the likes of BMWs and Mercedes to drive slowly on highways.
Mr Mohammed admitted he was not aware of the 22 outstanding summonses issued to his two cars, because he leaves such matters to his drivers.
However, he agreed to have them settled immediately.
High-powered cars in Malaysia are largely the preserve of the wealthy.
High tariffs on imported vehicles mean that a typical Mercedes would cost the average Malaysian 20 years wages.
Yet there are thousands on the roads. Top Malaysians who have been given titles in recognition of their achievements often put official badges on their number plates to let other drivers know just how important they are.
But Malaysia's deputy prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, is signalling that he has little patience for the foibles of the privileged classes.
If, as expected, he takes over as prime minister next October, Malaysia's high and mighty will have to remember to play by the rules.

10 November, 2002

Malaysian ministers rebuked over unpaid speed fines

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian government ministers, facing rare public criticism for failing to pay more than $26,000 in speeding fines, have come up with a novel solution -- raise the speed limit.
Newspapers said on Sunday the chief minister of southern Malacca state, whose car is listed with 22 unsettled summonses, had suggested raising the speed limit from 110 km per hour to 160 kph for high-powered cars.
"Speeding is normally not the main cause of an accident," one paper quoted Ali Rustam as saying.
Police have revealed that chief ministers and high-ranking officials from most of Malaysia's 14 states have failed to settle more than 1,000 traffic summonses worth more than 100,000 ringgit ($26,315) since 1999.
Public anger has been growing at the way police crack down only on ordinary motorists, prompting the pro-government New Straits Times daily to publish names of VIP offenders and their car registration numbers.
Hoping to soothe the discontent, Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said at the weekend police must not discriminate between offenders.
"VIPs are not above the law and must settle traffic summonses," Abdullah said.
But Malacca's Ali offered an excuse for the offences:
"Sometimes we are in a hurry to attend functions because people will get angry if we are late. So we end up exceeding the speed limit," he said.

Sunday, November 10, 2002

Malacca CM to settle 22 traffic summonses

MALACCA: Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam will fork out his own money to settle 22 unpaid traffic summonses issued to his official car, backdated to April.
He also said all state exco members would have to settle their traffic summonses and the matter would be brought up for discussion at the coming exco meeting.
“I settled two traffic summonses when I was the Deputy Transport Minister,” he said when asked about the unsettled traffic summonses of government leaders.
He said he was not aware of the summonses issued to his official car as reported by a daily yesterday.
It was also reported that state exco members yet to settle their traffic summonses include Datuk Ramlah Abas (23), Datuk Hamdin Abdollah and Datuk Ahmad Hamzah (10 each) and Datuk Mo’min Abdul Aziz (22).
It also said State Secretary Datuk Jahaya Mat had seven unpaid traffic summonses for his official car.
Mohd Ali proposed that the speed limit up on highways be increased to 160kph for cars that were 2,000cc and more.
Citing an example, he said highways in Germany were without speed limit and yet the accident rate was very low.
In Alor Star, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain has directed all vehicles belonging to the state government to be driven according to the stipulated speed limit with immediate effect.
Syed Razak was commenting on a newspaper report that vehicles used by him and five state executive councillors had 100 outstanding traffic summonses with fines amounting to RM10,460 issued over the past two years.
It was also reported that State Assembly Speaker Datuk Badruddin Amiruldin had 23 summonses with fines totalling RM2,500.
Syed Razak said he would use his own money to settle the RM1,190 in fines for the 11 outstanding summonses issued to his two official vehicles.
“I direct all state executive councillors to settle their summonses with their own money as well,” he told reporters yesterday.
In Kangar, state Traffic Police and Public Order chief ASP Mat Tahir Kassim said generally, not many VIPs from Perlis were issued summonses and when they were, the summonses would eventually be settled.
DAP national deputy chairman Karpal Singh said the law was no respecter of persons.
“VIPs should have set an example to the ordinary citizen by settling their summonses before the matter became public,” he said in a statement.