PETALING JAYA: Reckless driving and incompetence. These are two main reasons cited by the traffic police and road safety experts on the high road accident rate in the country.
The issue has given rise to whether Malaysian motorists have been properly trained in driving or understood road regulations before obtaining their licences.
The Star sent out a team of reporters to pose as learner drivers in various parts of the country and found that some driving schools had been offering “shortcuts” to their students.
These institutes openly asked for duit kopi, claiming they knew the testers or people inside the Road Transport Department (JPJ) who could make it easy for learner drivers to “breeze through” their tests.
Such “transactions” were, however, never direct as the driving schools claimed to act as “middleman”.
Several driving schools even claimed that learner drivers could skip the compulsory road safety lectures, practical driving lessons and even the Highway Code test. However, they said they would not be able to guarantee the licences if the learner drivers failed their parking or slope tests.
Some motorists interviewed admitted to paying duit kopi, claiming it was the “norm” to do so.
JPJ has, meanwhile, denied such claims and asked for reports and evidence.
Said JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir: “It is illegal to ask for duit kopi. I’ve said it so many times already. These are all cases of cheating.
“Give me the names of these driving schools. I will take action.”
In Penang, a check by The Star found that the asking duit kopi rate by several driving schools was around RM100.
One driving school in Seberang Prai claimed it could even obtain commercial vehicle licences for learner drivers. To obtain a Goods Driving Licence, learner lorry drivers pay RM525, which included a “sure pass” fee.
Accounting student J. C. Chang, 23, said he was asked by his driving instructor if he wanted pay RM100 extra to pass his practical test.
“The instructor told me I would be tested by a more lenient examiner during the on-the-road test, so I paid up.
“My older brother told me he also had to pay duit kopi when he learned driving 20 years ago,” said Chang, who passed his test.
In Johor, a driving academy said they could arrange for learner drivers to skip the Highway Code test for an extra RM250.
Many driving schools even bragged that they had insiders in JPJ to make it easy for one to pass their test.
In Petaling Jaya, a driving institute claimed the “system” to obtain a guaranteed pass in the Highway Code test had been put on hold, pending a “review”. A staff hinted that the duit kopi would increase after Chinese New Year from the current RM600 fee charged.
Confederation of the Associations of Driving Schools/ Institutes Malaysia (Perpisma) secretary-general Harun Shafiee said driving schools, which offered such packages, were doing so for the sake of business.
“This is like a sale, they hike up the price and promise you can pass just to entice you. But when the time comes, it doesn’t work that way.”
Harun said the confederation had sent out its “investigators” to see if it was possible to pass easily after paying extra.
“Our people go with all sorts of excuses, saying they cannot read, are not smart enough or don’t have time to go for lessons.”
Personally, Harun felt that driving tests these days were much easier than in the past.