PETALING JAYA, June 4 — Drink-driving has been garnering plenty of attention because of the high number of road accidents lately, even with the movement control order in effect.
Many Malaysians are rightfully infuriated by the recent fatalities resulting from these accidents leading them to express their anger through unpleasant and disharmonious comments online.
With a lot of negativity and resentment in the air, one Malaysian man is choosing to channel his discontent in a more positive manner.
By driving around the Klang Valley in his very own “mobile billboard” that are banners stuck on his car to spread awareness to his fellow countrymen about the dangers of drink-driving.
Uploaded onto his social media platforms two days ago, Mohd Azhar Osman, who goes by the pseudonym “Mr J” on his social media accounts, shared his “positive” way of getting the message across peacefully.
In an interview with Malay Mail, Azhar, 37, said that he felt the need to spread more positivity during this time, as the ongoing heated debates amongst Malaysians are doing more harm than good.
“We see so many comments on posts online that are really not appropriate. I don’t even feel right saying those things and we should not say these things to each other,” said Azhar.
“That’s why I chose to make posters like this that say ‘Don’t drink and drive for a harmonious Malaysia’ with Ghana pallbearers as well so that people think of it in a better way.”
The Ghana pallbearers rose to social media stardom earlier this year for their new and colourful “funeral dancing routine” and have even been turned into a meme with social media users using images of them to describe scenarios of potential death.
Inspired by famous drink-driving ads and PSA’s yesteryear, Azhar said that the idea just came to him after seeing many Malaysians arguing online.
“It was just a spontaneous thing. I make a lot of content on social media, but usually, I just keep quiet in issues like this. But when I saw more and more news and posts about drink-driving online, I had to say something,” he said.
“I didn’t know how to send my message to people. Social media only caters to specific groups. So I decided to stick the posters on my car and drive around so everyone could see it.”
Azhar said that he drove around areas in Kuala Lumpur, Klang, Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya, driving on every street that he could to spread his positive messages.
However, he added that he is “afraid” that people may go overboard with their nasty comments online, potentially sparking a rift between the different races, which would just add more problems to the mix.
“We all have to take great care and responsibility in maintaining our harmony and unity. These accidents were caused by individuals, not a race or religion,” said Azhar.
“I don’t want the actions of a few drunk drivers to affect the lives of others just because they are from the same race.
“I live in a multi-cultural community in Klang and I can’t imagine losing the peace we have because of something like this. So I’m just trying to do what I can to prevent this situation from escalating and making Malaysians fight amongst themselves.”
Azhar said that Malaysians have received his social awareness messages very well during his drives, despite keyboard warriors fuelling arguments online.
“For the past three days I’ve been doing this, everyone, Malay, Chinese or Indian, have welcomed the messages positively, horning or giving me a thumbs-up as they drive past,” he said.
Azhar also said that stricter laws should be implemented to deter drink-driving, as social drinkers will be more fearful of the consequences.
“It’s not wrong for a non-Muslim to go out drinking. We have to understand. Only people who don’t think before they speak say that it should be banned,” said Azhar.
“There is nothing wrong with drinking. But if you drink and drive then it is wrong. You can always call someone to pick you up. You’re not only endangering yourself but others around you as well.
“So if there are stricter laws, maybe people would be more motivated not to drink and drive, knowing that they are going to suffer greatly for doing so.”
On May 30, prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin expressed his concern with the number of drink-driving cases, with a total 21 road accidents involving eight fatalities recorded this year during lockdown periods—almost matching the 23 reported cases last year.
Currently, drink-driving offences which cause death or injury to another person are punishable under Section 44(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333)
Muhyiddin also announced that the Transport Ministry has been instructed to make draft amendments to Act 333.