Criticised for helping ‘basikal lajak’ enthusiasts, Syed Saddiq says important to guide, not punish

Sports and Youth Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman arrives at Parliament November 7, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Sports and Youth Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman arrives at Parliament November 7, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — Under fire for expressing intention to help teenage ‘basikal lajak’ enthusiasts, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman today reminded the masses about the importance of guiding youngsters instead of punishing them.

This, he said, was especially for those who possess potentials that can be harvested to give them a better future.

“I was criticised for taking the stand to guide and not punish. From continuously insulting them, I opted to train them with TVET education.

“Rather than continuously criticising them, I chose to teach them about road safety.

“Rather than continuously insulting them, I chose to enroll them into the National Bicycle Development Programme. Some of us like to punish and fail to guide,” Syed Saddiq said stressing that teenagers who get involved in ‘basikal lajak’ riding and racing activities are in need of guidance from everyone.

“I want them to be successful children. I want them to cycle safely and hone their skills carefully. I do not want to see the same tragedy repeating,” he said, adding that everyone must learn from the tragic incident which happened in Johor.

“Let us all find a way to lend a helping hand in guiding these youths to success. We owe it to Malaysia!” he added.

Earlier today, the Muar MP announced that his ministry is hoping to get children racing on illegally modified bicycles, known as ‘basikal lajak’, off the streets and into its training programme where they could become the next Azizulhasni Awang aka “Pocket Rocketman”.

He said the ministry has started a workshop at its facilities with stationary bicycles and is trying to channel the children’s energy positively.

The “basikal lajak” children have become a social issue in recent years, often proving a menace to other public road users and endangering their own lives by riding illegally modified bicycles to perform stunts.

Eight teenagers riding “basikal lajak” were killed two years ago when they collided with a motorist on a dark and winding road in Johor Baru at 3am. The driver, Sam Ke Ting, 24, was acquitted of a reckless driving charge last week — shining the spotlight on the issue once more.

Two days ago, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook said Cabinet had discussed the ‘basikal lajak’ phenomenon and inter-ministry efforts would be needed to tackle it.

Terengganu-born Azizulhasni, 31, whose diminutive stature earned him the “pocket rocketman” nickname, is the first Malaysian win a medal at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships and also took the bronze for the individual keirin in the last Olympic Games in 2016.

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