Feb 21, 2017
Recollections & Reflections – A weekly column by Aziz Hassan
SAME issues and same reaction but don’t expect the mountain to move after the initial shock is over.
It was most shocking and to the families and friends of the young victims, a truly sad and traumatic experience.
There they were, one only 13 years old and many others a year older, having what was initially a fun and carefree morning – the wee hours of the morning – on what was said to be a dim and winding road.
All 16 of them, according to press reports, when suddenly a car driven by a young woman mowed them from behind. Eight died and the rest were injured, two seriously.
Those not familiar with the area will not be able to visualise what the conditions must have been like but it’s safe to assume that they must have been cycling in a bunch covering most of the road from side to side.
The casualty could have been much different had the kids been cycling in a single file, keeping themselves to the side of the road, closest to the road shoulder.
One other sad aspect of this tragedy is that the victims look to be from working class families.
It is a phenomenon similar to what you see in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.
Either they congregate at the ever so popular Dataran Merdeka or weave in and out of traffic along some the city’s busiest roads especially on a special day.
The only saving grace is that when they do this on these roads, the chances of an accident are remote because the roads are usually congested, making it impossible for motorists to speed.
But the time is no different from that of the Johor Baru case – it’s an activity the kids indulged in between midnight and just before dawn.
Most of the kids doing this in KL are clearly also from working class suburbs. Those often out in town at the same time the kids have their seemingly worry-free rides would have noticed how one group is led by a girl. The average age level appears to be 13 or 14.
Some years ago a friend had a chat with a few boys of the same age who lived in the low-cost flats in Bangsar Utama.
Their story was that they found living at the congested flats suffocating, especially those with a large family. On certain days the boys ended up hanging out at the nearby Hindu temple, even to the point of sleeping the night there.
Those in the cycling groups could be driven by the same suffocating environment of their neighbourhoods into the better lit and more spacious parts of the city.
Although the problem is working class, those who opposed the loudest came from the middle-class
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed now wants the state governments to impose a curfew on kids but for some unclear reasons, says that this should not cover all states since the problem appears to be found only in places like JB and the Klang Valley. The area where the fatal accident occurred falls within Nur Jazlan’s parliamentary constituency of Pulai.
Sometimes the problem is Malaysians have a short memory.
More than two decades ago, when Malaysians often read news about the bohsia problem, then Perlis mentri besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim spoke about a similar proposal, pointing out that even many small towns in America impose this curfew. Mind you, the United States, a country known for being open and carefree.
Immediately the knives were out, with most finding it unamusing that the government would now want to take it a step further to play the role of parents. The detractors insisted that parenting should be left to the parents.
The irony of this is that although the problem is one that affects the working class, the ones objecting the loudest to the idea of a curfew are those from the middle-class.