Automatic 2-Weeks Suspension Of Licenses For Those Involved In Accidents Even When Not At Fault Violates Natural Justice And The Fundamental Moral Ideal Of Justice Where The Law Upholds Protection Of Rights And Punishment Of Wrongs

Press Statement
Lim Guan Eng

(Petaling Jaya, Monday): DAP strongly opposes Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s suggestion of an automatic two weeks suspension of licenses for those involved in accidents even if they are not at fault. The proposal to retain driving licenses of any motorist who lodges reports of accidents, without determining who is in the wrong, violates natural justice and the fundamental moral ideal of justice where the law uphold protection of rights and punishment of wrongs. 

Retaining driving licenses of those who are wrong is acceptable but not the innocent party as the law should punish the guilty not the innocent ones. Natural justice demands that everyone be given the right to be heard and tell their version of the incident. DAP supports the motives behind such a proposal to reduce the shocking number of accidents and fatalities. But such sweeping and indiscriminate punishment may be ineffective and even serve to inflict irreparable damage on the law and our judicial system. Is there any justice  when the law does not protect our rights nor punish those who commits wrong? 

Motorists would be discouraged from making police reports even if they are not in the wrong. This may have the opposite effect of making accidents go unreported and motorists being more reckless and careless if they think they can get away unpunished. The proposal would appear to be successful because the number of accidents reported is reduced but the reality is that all this is hidden to avoid their licenses being confiscated. 

A motorist from Johor Baru would not report an accident in Penang, if he is the only driver with a license as he would not be able to return to Johor Baru with his family when his license being retained by the police for 2 weeks. Such retention of license for two weeks is grossly unfair and an injustice to him when he did not cause an accident.  

The government should acknowledge its own fair share of responsibility for road accidents instead of blaming it entirely on the motorists. The Prime Minister should not try to cover-up the Transportation Ministry’s failure to implement and enforce its own regulations, but should punish the officials for such derelict of duty. So many proposals have been implemented but never enforced. 

Furthermore, there is no similar sense of urgency or insistence to mete such wholesale, indiscriminate and sweeping punishment on failed government projects. In the light of so many failed government projects involving billions of ringgit why is it that the government does not adopt a similar strategy by punishing both the contractor and the Finance Ministry that awarded the contract?  

If the Prime Minister feels that the accident rate is so desperate that indiscriminate and sweeping punishment of all and sundry, whether at fault or not, is the only effective solution then he should immediately punish the contractor, the Finance and Works Ministry in similar fashion. Any failure to do so would only give rise to suspicions of double-standard and selective prosecution.


* Lim Guan Eng, DAP Secretary-General