Move to nip mat lajak issue in the bud

KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Aman has called for new laws to act against shops or individuals providing modifications to transform bicycles into “basikal lajak” or mosquito bicycles.

Federal Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department director Deputy Comm Datuk Azisman Alias said the current laws were not tough enough to deal with the “mat lajak” (youngsters who race or perform stunts on modified bikes) issue.

“Many of the children involved are below the age of 10 and according to the laws we have, we cannot take any action against them other than holding them until their parents or guardians come to collect them.

“We need laws to hit the issue at its source, which means we go after anyone creating these modifications, ” he told reporters at Bukit Aman yesterday.

He said these basikal lajak have no lights, no brakes, and have handle bars, wheel forks and seats modified in order for the rider to assume the “Superman” position easily.

“The mat lajak also do not wear helmets and ride recklessly through traffic, ” he said adding that this was not only endangering their lives but also the lives of other motorists on the road.

He said there must be cooperation between all enforcement agencies involved in handling this issue.

Doing nothing will invite catastrophe.

“We need the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and Transport Ministry to look into this matter and propose relevant legislation that we can use.

“We (the police) are only law enforcement. We are bound by the laws currently in place and can only work within those laws.

“If we do not act now, its just a matter of time before another case like what happened in Johor Baru occurs again, ” he said.

DCP Azisman was referring to the fatal mat lajak case which occurred on Feb 18,2017 where eight teen cyclists were killed when a car ploughed into a group of more than 30 youngsters who were riding these modified bicycles.

The accident occurred at around 3.30am along Jalan Lingkaran Dalam near the Mahmoodiah Muslim cemetery.

Eight more cyclists were hospitalised after the incident.

“Currently, we can use the Road Traffic Rules 1959, Road Transport Act 1987 and the Child Act 2001.

“With the current laws, we can issue compounds to these cyclists for violations to the Road Traffic Rules 1959 and seize their bicycles indefinitely under Section 112(3) of the Road Transport Act 1987, ” he said, adding that under Section 33 of the Child Act 2001, the police could open investigations into negligence on the part of the parents or legal guardians.

He said while they had not used the Child Act 2001 yet, they would in future cases.

“Last year, we conducted 93 operations nationwide with the majority of them held in Johor (84) where the fatal case occurred. We seized 105 bicycles in those operations.

“This year, we conducted only 13 operations nationwide but we seized 116 bicycles, ” he said, adding that they have been monitoring locations frequented by the mat lajak.

He said the hotspots identified included 10 in Penang, four in Negri Sembilan, three each in Pahang, Selangor and Perak, and one each in Johor, Sabah and Kelantan.

“There have been eight fatalities linked to this mat lajak issue but I believe there are many cases of broken limbs and injuries that go unreported.

“We need to act quickly as these impressionable children could graduate to become ‘mat rempit’ and street thugs in the future, ” he added.

Meanwhile, a representative of the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) said it will issue a statement on the matter today.

The Road Safety Department declined to comment, saying that it would await further developments.

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