IT is good when policy-makers throw ideas or think aloud to get public feedback. The reactions can be analysed to help in formulating effective policies.
However, some ideas should not have been brought up, let alone announced. Case in point is the proposed motorbike ban in certain parts of Kuala Lumpur to curb illegal racing and snatch thefts.
The tens of thousands of motorcyclists who work in the city daily will agree that it's a ludicrous proposal – and tantamount to suggesting that every rider is a potential snatch thief and illegal racer.
Some say the proposal is insensitive and will only affect poorer Malaysians, although Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tengku Adnan Mansor has clarified it will only be implemented as a last resort.
The plan to bar single occupancy vehicles from entering the city several years ago to ease traffic congestion was never implemented. If it had, it would have affected motorists who generally earn more than motorcyclists.
Companies that use despatch clerks and delivery boys will surely be adversely affected if restrictions were placed on motorcyclists entering the city. It could mean some of these people losing their jobs.
In trying to argue that banning motorcycles will curb snatch thefts in touristy areas, the Government has inadvertently admitted that it is more concerned with the safety of tourists and the image of the nation than the daily needs of Malaysians.
It must be noted that the rampant cases of snatch thefts and illegal racing are not confined to Kuala Lumpur alone. It is a national problem, occurring just about everywhere.
More police patrols will obviously make a difference, but as we all know, the police force does not have enough men to spare for more regular patrols in residential areas. Perhaps our men in blue should come up with more innovative ways of curbing these undesirable activities.
Based on feedback from readers, the police see this as an “unglamorous” task. To the average Malaysian, safety in the residential area, and not a tourist spot, is of primary concern.
Perhaps the authorities should consider a law that allows forfeiture of bikes of illegal racers and quickly auction them. The funds obtained could then be channelled to employing more policemen and buying special equipment to track illegal races.
Malaysians should share the responsibility. It is their sons who take part in illegal races. So educating children on the dangers of this activity is indeed vital.
And those who watch and place bets in such races should be charged with abetting this nefarious activity.
Schools could complement parents by driving home the message. Even places of worship could include this topic in sermons.
It is heartening to note that the Cabinet spent time discussing the problem of illegal racers and snatch thefts. This, to a great extent, shows that our government is people-centred.
But it should not wait for a VIP to become a victim before the issue is given attention, as in the case of the Kedah Umno secretary who was beaten up by a group of bikers when he tried to stop an illegal race.
In the meantime, the police should be out there pursuing these lawbreakers to help make Malaysia an even safer place to live in.