“Thunder big, raindrop small”  outcome of Cabinet meeting on road carnage which kills 16 persons and maims or  injures 125 people in a daily accident rate of 570 crashes  in the past 10 years a great letdown and Ministerial failure

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaThursday):  “Thunder big, raindrops small” sums up best the public reaction to the outcome of the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the road carnage in the country, especially after the  Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had expressed his outrage and shock at the high accident and fatality rates during the recent Hari Raya holidays. 

All that came out of the Cabinet meeting yesterday was the post-Cabinet announcement by the Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy that his ministry had been tasked to implement two Cabinet decisions - to limit the number of driving hours of commercial vehicle drivers and to make it mandatory for them to undergo specialised training before obtaining their licences.

Both these measures were clearly in response to the horror three-vehicle  crash at 63 km of the Jalan Kuala Lipis-Merapoh on Sunday which killed 14 passengers, which was understandable. But what was inexcusable and a great letdown was why the Cabinet had ignored the road carnage of the  other 199 fatalities during the 12-day Ops Sikap V?  

Are the other 199 deaths in the 12-day Hari Raya holidays  of no consequence as compared to the 14 deaths in the horror crash in Pahang, because the latter had greater publicity impact?  Are the Ministers motivated only by  media  publicity and indifferent to the criminal waste of the colossal and avoidable loss of human lives, human sufferings of the maimed and wounded as well as  the great economic costs to the country in the other 199 fatalities because they are little publicized individually? 

In the past 10 years from 1993 to 2002, there had been 2,081,243 traffic accidents, 57,453 fatalities and 454,442 injuries/disabilities, which work out to  15.7 people killed, 124.5 people maimed/injured, and 570 accidents every day  in the past 10 years. 

These figures are derived from the following traffic accidents/fatalities/injuries data in the past decade from the National Road Safety Council: 

Year    No. of Accidents     Fatalities       Injuries

1993     135,995                   4,666        37,020
1994     148,801                   5,159        43,344
1995     162,491                   5,712        46,440
1996     189,109                   6,304        47,171
1997     215,632                   6,302        50,272
1998     210,964                   5,744        49,953
1999     223,116                   5,791        47,269
2000     250,249                   6,035        44,165
2001     265,175                   5,849        44,657
2002     279,711                   5,891        44,151

Total   2,081,243                 57,453       454,442

Average      570                     15.7             570

These horrific figures should shock not just Ministers but all Malaysians, and there must be the political will to end the completely preventable road carnage. 

The new Transport Minister, Chan Kong Choy  will be guilty of a gross negligence of Ministerial duty if his only response to the daily toll of 16 people killed, 125 people  maimed or injured, and 570 crashes in the past 10 years are the two announcements he made yesterday. 

The Malaysian people have the right to expect a higher standard of Ministerial responsibility and care for the their safety and  welfare as well as   concern for the national interest and to demand an  effective road safety plan to end the road carnage on the Malaysian roads. 

As a first step, declare the road carnage as a national crisis, which requires not just media attention during the national festivities, but daily coverage and focus  to end the criminal avoidable loss of human lives on the roads.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman