Wednesday, July 12, 2006

SPEEDY GONZALES in MALAYSIAN CABINET: No 1- SAMY VELLU-RM17,460 (143); Fong Chan Onn - RM15,230 (115); Syed Hamid Albar –RM15,200 (121)

No 17 - Chan Kong Choy, Transport Minister
Graphics Courtesy Malaysiakini

When Malaysiakini had the exclusive exposure (see above) on 10th Jul 2006; 18 ministers were identified with unpaid summons, many people with the ministers' car registration numbers did their own checking and alerted them that "many more are involved". So many are not "cleaned"

Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu led the pack of defaulters. There is confusion on the 2nd spot; Datuk Seri Fong has more fines than Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar who has more summons on his name. All of them will denied they were actually driving their cars, it must be the Datins, the sons or daughters; but all will have no choice but to pay up to follow the leadership by examples principle.

From the cabinet list and the majority of people with summons, it seems every tom dick and harry is overspeeding (assuming it is the major offence). What the police should do now is to actually analyze where most of the summons come from and at what speed they were caught and at which stretch of roads. They must utilize the ICT experts and determine what should be the appropriate speed limit for that stretch of road.

The speed limits are very outdated in a great number of places and are essentially “speed traps zone” for all motorists. When the roads are widened to accommodate speedier movement of traffic, speed limits should be adjusted to reflect on the better road conditions.
What is outdated is the Road Ordinance which should undergo a detailed study and the appropriate clauses be amended.

The following is Bernama account which is bare
Najib Pledges To Settle Summonses, Wants Ministers To Do The Same
PUTRAJAYA, July 11 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday he would settle his outstanding traffic summonses and urged fellow ministers slapped with fines for traffic offences to pay up.

Explaining how he ended up being on the list of federal ministers with unpaid summonses for traffic violations, the Deputy Prime Minister said: "As you know, I don't drive the cars, others drive." "So, I don't know the car had been summoned and the people responsible didn't tell me," he said of the list put up on a website showing him at the sixth spot with 67 summonses since March 1999 amounting to RM7,820 in total compounds after reduction.

Topping the list is Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu followed by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamad Nazri Abdul Aziz.

Queried about the list at a press conference after chairing a meeting on jobless graduates here, Najib said: "Many of these are personal cars driven by others I'm not aware of. Whoever's name is on the list, we'll take action to settle the summonses. We'll settle this matter."

The NST account gave more details of the total amount and the number of summons.
Najib to settle RM7,820 in traffic fines; 12 Jul 2006
PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has to pay RM7,820 to settle summonses for traffic offences by a car under his name.

"I’ll settle it. But it wasn’t me driving the car," he said in a light-hearted tone to reporters who raised the issue with him yesterday.

Najib is number five on an Internet news daily site of ministers who have not paid fines for speeding offences.

The list was published online yesterday, with Najib having 67 unpaid summonses, the oldest one on March 27, 1999 and the most recently issued summons on April 16, this year.

"Yes, I know all about it, I know I’m number five on the list," Najib said. He was speaking at a Press conference after chairing a meeting by the special committee on unemployed graduates.

He said the summonses were issued on his personal car which was driven by other people.
"I didn’t know my car was summoned, whoever was driving also neglected to tell me. But we will settle it," he said.

On the same list, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was number one with the highest number of unpaid summonses – 143 with RM17,460 in fines after reductions.

Second is Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who owes RM15,200 for 121 unpaid summonses over the past seven years.

He is followed by Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn with 115 summonses and RM15,230 in fines.

Fourth was Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Minister Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who owes RM12,190 for 93 summonses.

.. and here are the comments extrated from readers in Malaysiakini
Malaysian Voter: Your report of “elite speedsters” including cabinet ministers - it’s interesting that it included the transport minister who has preached road safety - with unpaid fines of traffic offences is an inescapable fact that they did not put to practice what they had publicly preached. Certain ministers who lamented about our high accident rates are also implicated in the speeding offences.

It is indeed an “eye-opener” which reflects our quality of political leadership and the double standard where top leaders are exempted from the deadline imposed by the traffic police in the payment of fines. No wonder, the saying that Malaysians are taking comedians seriously and politicians as a joke.

It is a known fact from their former drivers that they normally flicked their cars’ head-lamps lights as they approached an “anti-speeding operation” indicating their VIP status to avoid being summoned. Or the drivers switched on their emergency lights as they sped beyond the authorised speed limits, after all, the cars carried “special passengers”. It is indeed a great disappointment but kudos to our traffic police for their integrity and transparency.

Meng: I do not understand why ministers get a discount for their speeding fines. If anything, the ministers should be fined twice the amount because they should set an example on obeying the law. I really deplore this type of preferential treatment and find it disgusting that this government asks us to change our lifestyle, to be thrifty, to eat less sugar, to use less energy, to pay our traffic summonses, etc. Yet our own BN leaders have more traffic summonses then two hands put together, and they have no warrant of arrests? This is selective persecution.
David Yee: Please continue to highlight this issue until they pay up, and in particular Samy Vellu. In Australia, the ministers will have to probably resign.
Update: Jul 13 06

Why ministers' licences not revoked?; Bede Hong Jul 13, 06 11:53am

The revelation that a majority of ministers in the cabinet have accumulated nearly 1,000 unpaid summonses raises questions as to how the road taxes for their vehicles could be renewed each year.

According to an official at the Road Transportation Department (JPJ), owners of vehicles with outstanding traffic fines cannot renew their road taxes until payments have been made.

It is illegal for motorists to use a vehicle without a current road tax, which must be renewed annually.

When renewing road taxes, information on a road user's unpaid summonses would show in the computer network which is directly linked to the JPJ's mainframe computer.

Motorists are then told to clear their unpaid summons before they can renew their vehicle's road tax.

This is, of course, in theory. The reality is quite different, said a motoring expert, who declined to be named.

He said there seem to be some bureaucratic glitches between the police and the JPJ.

"Summonses information must first get to JPJ," he said.

"If the police does not send over the information, then a motorist would not have a record. That is why sometimes you could renew your road tax even when you have a backlog of several summonses from years ago. It's because the information has not reached JPJ yet."

However, the expert said that if a car owner is unlucky enough to be issued a traffic summons by a JPJ officer, it is a "guarantee" that the owner would be unable to renew the road tax of the vehicle if the owner does not pay up. Summonses are usually issued by the police, as JPJ has less manpower.

Demerit points

Another question, although not related to road tax renewal, was why the driving licences of the politicians, or their drivers', were not suspended after having committed dozens of traffic offences.

The JPJ has a road safety demerit system called Kejara. It is a point demerit system whereby if a motorist exceeds 15 points, the user's drivers licence could be suspended for six months.

Ensuing offences would result in further suspension and finally a permanent cancellation of the drivers licence.

Speeding, the most common offence committed by the ministers, carries demerit points of between 6 and 15 points, depending on the severity of each offence.

"However, for the demerit system to work, police officers would have to fill out forms. It's a complicated system, which of course does not work because you don't see any of the ministers' licences suspended or revoked," said the motoring expert.

Double standards

He also criticised several ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who claimed that they were not driving their cars when the traffic offences were committed.

"If you look closely at the bottom of the traffic summons, it is stated that if you are not the driver of a vehicle, but someone else was driving your vehicle, then you can fill out the form and direct the police's attention to that particular person. The police would then reissue the summons.

"We can't know for sure whether a minister was behind a wheel or not. But you can't expect people to believe that you had no knowledge of the traffic offences committed in vehicles under their names.

"The only scenario I can imagine is that their aides could be hiding the summonses from them, but it's very unusual as the summonses were not paid for up to seven years," he said.

On why the ministers have been getting away with it for so long, the expert felt it was due to a mix of procrastination, inefficiency and a fear of penalising high-profile politicians.

"The summons are issued to high-profile car owners. You know where their offices are. The police cannot claim that these people cannot be traced.

"They can't say we cannot find them... even if that is the case, you can send a formal notice to their office," he said.

The police said more than RM2.82 billion remain uncollected in traffic summonses issued between 2001 and 2004 to some 9.4 million drivers nationwide.

Malaysiakini has sent a request to the traffic police for an interview last week and has yet to hear from them.

Full list of cabinet members and their unpaid fines
and comments in a letter
LETTERS: VIP traffic summonses: Why no arrest warrants?
Sulaiman Rejab Jul 13, 06 4:02pm

I refer to your exclusive report 18 more ministers among 'elite' speedsters.

If one says that selected prosecution does not take place in Malaysia, please laugh. Ministers are getting away with unpaid traffic summonses while the ordinary man is being dragged to the lock-up in the wee hours of the morning.

Inspector-General of Police Mohd Bakri Omar must explain the police's failure to arrest the prime minister, the deputy prime minister and other cabinet ministers for not paying their traffic summonses, some dating back to late 1990s.

Why the double standard? When the ordinary man, who surely earns much less than these ministers, fails to pay his or her summonses, the police take great pains to go to court and obtain warrants of arrest.

If the IGP cannot give a satisfactory answer as to why there are no warrants of arrest against these ministers, who in their hypocritical political speeches and Hari Raya messages advice motorists to drive slowly and carefully, then he should obviously resign for failing in his duties.

No doubt that in most cases, it is the ministers' drivers who commit the traffic offence, but while ferrying whom?

The deputy prime minister has collected summonses dating back to 1999 and owes the government about RM8,000. And guess what? No warrant of arrest. Works Minister S Samy Vellu, with 143 unpaid summonses, still owes the government RM17,460.

He is followed by Foreign Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar, who has racked up 121 unpaid summonses totaling RM15,200 over the past seven years.

Close on his heels is Human Resources Minister Dr Fong Chan Onn, with a debt of RM15,230 from 115 summonses issued from May 21, 2001 up to April this year.

Entrepreneur and Co-operative Development Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin is said to owe RM12,190 from 93 summonses over a period of seven years.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had 11 summons, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Sharizat Abdul Jalil had 23 and International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz had 10. Youth and Sports Minister Azalina Othman had 28 recorded against her name.
The Minister of Transport (also has 14 summons
under his name
) speaking to newsmen

Update 13th July 06
No special treatment for ministers: Chan
Giam Say Khoon Updated: 08:45PM Thu, 13 Jul 2006
PUTRAJAYA: There is no special treatment for ministers who, like ordinary citizens, must pay up their traffic fines.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said today (July 13, 2006) ministers will not be spared simply because they are ministers.

However, he said he was told that most of the time, the car registered under the minister's name is not driven by the minister but his driver.

"Anyway, this is not an excuse for them not to pay their outstanding summonses," he told reporters after announcing a road safety mobile exhibition.

"The ministers should also advice their drivers to drive safely and follow strictly the traffic rules and regulations."

Chan said that during the cabinet meeting on Wednesday (July 12, 2006), the ministers discussed the matter and (decided) that those booked must pay up. According to recent news reports, several ministers chalked up high outstanding traffic fines.


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