JOHOR BARU: In a bid to stop illegal racing activities, Johor police have pledged to conduct more operations and roadblocks throughout the state in the coming months.
State police chief Comm Datuk Kamarul Zaman Mamat said illegal motorcycle racing activities in Johor had increased after the relaxation of Covid-19 movement restrictions.
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“During the several phases of the movement control order in 2020 and 2021, there was a decline in illegal racing as the mat rempit were unable to carry out their activities.
“However, since the transition into the endemic phase, which saw more restrictions being lifted, they (mat rempit) have become active again and are using the highways as their racing circuit.
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“As such, we have increased our operations and set up more roadblocks to curb this dangerous activity,” he told The Star.
Asked about the hotspots for mat rempit activity, Comm Kamarul said they usually raced on quiet and straight roads.
“There are no specific hotspots but generally, they will race in places that are quiet and where there are few people around to avoid being caught.
“They also choose roads that are straight and do not have many bumps or turns,” he said.
The illegal races, he added, were usually held on weekends, “which is why we are focusing our roadblocks and operations on these days, especially during the wee hours of the morning”.
Police would continue to monitor the situation, said Comm Kamarul, urging the public to play a more proactive role in curbing illegal racing by channelling information related to the activities to the cops.
Meanwhile, Seri Alam deputy OCPD Deputy Supt Dr Mohd Roslan Mohd Tahir, who has written a book on illegal racing in the Iskandar development region in Johor, said more focus should also be placed on increasing awareness among youths about the dangers of illegal racing.
“I spoke to about 300 mat rempit in the past three years as part of my research for the book to find out why they take part in such a dangerous activity.
“I discovered that most of them were attracted to illegal racing through peer influence when they were still in school.
“This shows how important it is for us to focus on creating awareness, especially among schoolchildren,” he said, noting that the mat rempit he interviewed were aged between 12 and 27.
DSP Mohd Roslan said while it was important for enforcement actions to be conducted continuously, priority should also be given to creating awareness among youths to deter them from becoming involved in such activities.
“Even if we hand them fines and summonses, their parents would be the ones who end up paying and they may not learn their lesson until tragedy strikes.
“We need to stop them from starting in the first place, and parents also need to monitor their children’s friends.
“In terms of punishment, I believe a better approach is to sentence them to community service, where they would be required to work on projects that will benefit society,” he said.
In Seremban, district police chief Asst Comm Nanda Ma’arof said there were five hotspots in the city where illegal racing is rampant.
These are Jalan Persiaran Senawang 1, the Kajang-Seremban Expressway (Lekas), Bandar Seremban Selatan, Jalan Rasah and Dataran Centrio in Seremban 2.
“However, I am happy to note that the mat rempit menace has actually been reduced following continuous police operations such as Ops Samseng Jalanan and Ops Motosikal,” he said.
ACP Nanda said more stringent penalties must be imposed on mat rempit if the authorities wanted to curb the menace.
Citing an example, he said the authorities amended Section 42 of the Road Transport Act 1987 in 2020 to suspend the licences of the wrongdoers from two to five years.
This was in addition to the fine and jail terms that could be imposed by the court, he added.
“We feel that the penalties need to be made even more stringent as the ‘samseng jalanan’ (street thugs) menace is still widespread,” he said.
He said one individual died earlier this year from engaging in such activities, adding: “The motorcyclist lost control of his machine and crashed along Lekas.”