DECEMBER 11 — I personally know two or three people who, upon receipt of parking tickets, immediately proceed to tear them up.
They proudly tell me they will receive a rainbow-coloured assortment of “legal letters” in the mail (pink, green, white, etc.) all of which they will chuck in the bin after which, well, nothing happens.
It’s almost as if they can break traffic and parking laws throughout the country with absolutely no consequence. This is, in fact, a kind of “open secret” cum paradox about traffic fines in the Klang Valley.
The situation was brought to light again with last week’s hooha over the 50 per cent discount for traffic summonses (offered in conjunction with the Madani government’s one-year anniversary celebration at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium).
It’s funny that it’s already 2023 yet the present Malaysian government (just like every government before it) continues the infamous “discount culture” over something for which discounts shouldn’t apply.
As many people already suspect, offering discounts for traffic violations is akin to pleading with guilty parties to partake of their lawful punishments, a situation which makes a mockery of the law and pretty much removes motivation to accept said penalties.
Imagine a student being penalised for cheating in his exams, resulting in an F and requiring a resit — only for the college to raise his mark to, say, D a week later because this student refuses to accept the penalty.
What a joke.
With such an arrangement, why would anyone want to pay their traffic fines early or even at all? Because, logically, if the police can penalise people for not paying their summonses, why would they need to give discounts?
Things are made worse because somehow our summons system isn’t integrated with the road tax i.e. I can refuse to pay a hundred fines yet I won’t have a problem doing my yearly road tax (although you may ask what’s the problem of not having a road tax if that only means yet another fine which doesn’t carry a penalty if it remains unpaid?!).
This is doubly weird because Grab drivers today can’t renew their road tax without their E-Hailing Vehicle Permit (EVP) having been renewed, so clearly those two systems are connected — so why not other systems?
Then again, maybe system integration is a bridge too far given that, as per last week’s fiasco, the payment system’s queuing function couldn’t even handle more than a few hundred registrations (let alone the more than 4,000 who signed up).
If there was something which deserved the sardonic label “Malaysia Boleh”, this is it. Violations of the law where the penalty cannot be enforced (and thus requires culprits to be “enticed”) with the system going into chaos when people do try to settle their summonses.
What solutions are there?
Maybe, like what the tax department does (or used to do) the cops could make house calls to recalcitrant non-payers. Maybe the banks could be roped in and, gasp, automatic deductions made after a certain duration. Or credit or services can be jeopardised. In worst-case scenarios, jail-time may be an option.
I’m sure there are many other ways. I think in general Malaysians don’t like these “cloud” of summonses hanging over them; hence the enthusiasm in taking up the 50 per cent discounts.
Whatever the case, the authorities simply need to take things more seriously. It’s, uh, their laws after all?
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.