The absence of statistics about the number of people maimed or injured in the high accident rate in Ops Sikap V is an example of the lack of government seriousness and professionalism to end the national crisis of road carnage and trauma in Malaysia

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaFriday): Last Sunday, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said that apart from Malaysia, “there is no place in the world where accidents and deaths are so high”. 

Yet all the Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy could say after Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting which discussed the Hari Raya holidays road carnage during the 12-day Ops Sikap V is that the government is undertaking “a thorough study be done on each of the fatal accidents which occurred during the Hari Raya season so as to build up a database which could prove useful in charting future strategies to reduce road accidents”.

This is a most outrageous outcome and most shocking statement as Malaysians had been told exactly the same thing year-in and year-out in the past 13 years when the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety was first formed after the horrific Karak Highway accident in 1990 which killed 17 people, with the specific target to reduce road fatalities by 30 per cent by the year 2,000 based on 1989 figures, i.e. 3,773 deaths. 

The Cabinet Committee on Road Safety had been a dismal failure, as it not only failed to reach its target, but saw road fatalities increased by leaps and bounds, resulting in  70,749 killed (averaging 5,442 fatalities a year) and a total of  537,689 people injured/maimed in the 13 years from 1990 to 2002. 

As the government had been studying the 70,749 road fatalities in the past 13 years, why must it study the 213 deaths in the 12-day Ops Sikap V before coming out with a National Road Safety Strategy and Plan to remove Malaysia from the dubious honour for topping the world’s list for road carnage all-the-year-round? 

This is the latest illustration  of the lack of seriousness of the Transport Minister to tackle the long-standing and worsening problem of road carnage in Malaysia.   

Is Chan Kong Choy now the Chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety, or is the Cabinet Committee currently headless or has it been dissolved? When such basic information is not available, how can anyone believe that the government is serious and professional in ending  the road carnage in the country? 

In fact, the absence of statistics about the number of people maimed or injured, whether daily or for the whole period,  in the high accident rate in Ops Sikap V is a further  example of the lack of government seriousness and professionalism to end the national crisis of road carnage and trauma in Malaysia 

There are many other instances.  Statistics show that road crashes in Malaysia disproportionately harm low-income groups because pedestrians, bicycle and motor-cycle-riders  are the most frequent casualties and form the most “vulnerable” victims of the road carnage  as illustrated by  the following  breakdown  of 5,887 road fatalities last year:

2002 Road Fatalities: 

Pedestrians 648
Motor-cycle 3,030
Bicycle 345
Motorcar 559
Van 70
Bus 18
Lorry 129
Four-wheel Drive 32
Others 46
Passengers (pillion riders):
Motor-cycle 397
Bicycles 33
Motorcar 456
Van 85
Bus 29
Lorry 69
Four-wheel Drive 41
Others 11
Total 5,887


The 648 pedestrians, 3,030 motor-cyclists and 397 pillion-riders, 235 bicyclists and 33 pillion-riders, add up to  4,343 or 73.8% of the total casualties of the road carnage last year.

The statistics of the past few years demonstrate that this group of  “vulnerable road users”  (VRU) from  the low-income brackets consistently make up some three-quarters of all road carnage victims in the past six years:

Breakdown of VRU Group 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Pedestrian 763 694 707 721 645 648
Motor-cyclist 3286 2981 2960 3118 2971 3030
Pillion rider 474 428 450 401 398 397
Bicyclist 251 249 291 236 232 235
Pillion 4 18 18 11 12 33
Total 4778 4370 4426  4487 4258 4343
Total Fatalities 6302 5740 5794 6035 5849 5887
(Percentage of VRU Group) 75.8% 76.1%  76.4% 74.4% 72.6% 73.8%


The “vulnerable road users”  low-income  group of victims of the road carnage, namely the pedestrians, bicyclists and  motor-cyclists and the pillion riders constitute well beyond 70 per cent and at one stage  reach as high as 78% of the road carnage per year if bus passengers are included.  

The policy-makers have not sufficiently focused on the social problem that some 70 to 78 per cent of the road carnage in the past six years were non-motorists from the low-income group, where the loss of a breadwinner would cause enormous hardships to the surviving families. 

It is a grave injustice as well as unacceptable human losses and economic costs to the nation that in the past six years between 1997 to 2002,  26,662 able-bodied Malaysians from the “vulnerable road users” low-income  brackets, most of whom would be youngsters, had been killed in preventable  traffic accidents. 

DAP calls on the Cabinet next Wednesday to revisit this issue and to declare the high accident rate and fatalities as a national crisis requiring it to be given top national priority by the government and society.  But the government must take the first step by demonstrating that there is the  political will and full Ministerial responsibility and accountability to beat the national crisis of the road carnage.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman