IT was a close call for me recently when the car I was travelling in crossed paths with a group of teenagers riding mosquito bikes at the ramp of a flyover near a shopping complex in Taman Maluri, Cheras.
Fortunately, the driver managed to avoid their bicycles in the 10pm incident. However, I kept thinking about the near miss and imagining what would have happened if our vehicle had knocked them down.
It seems these young cyclists, popularly known as “mat lajak”, have not learnt from the incident in Johor Baru in February last year where nine children were killed when a car rammed into them as they were cycling along the Middle Ring Road.
On Jan 10 this year, two boys were also killed and another injured when they and a fourth youth on mosquito bikes were rammed by a car in Jalan Kampung Maju Jaya, Pekan Nanas in Pontian.
In the wee hours, we can still see these teenagers out on the road, cycling dangerously with their friends. They are endangering not only themselves but also other road users by taking part in illegal bicycle races especially on hill slopes.
Parents should pay more attention to the safety of their children and never allow the youngsters to be exposed to danger, which could also result in loss of life. This includes riding a mosquito bike.
Mosquito bikes are bicycles that are often used in illegal races and, like mosquitoes, are considered a nuisance.
I was surprised when told that the parents of some of these teenagers appeared to be unconcerned about the safety of their children and took their time to pick them up when they were detained at the police station.
Some even told the police to leave their children in the lock-up as they did not want to come for them.
Parents should be issued a stern warning that they could be charged under Section 33 of the Child Act 2001 for leaving a child without reasonable supervision. If found guilty, they could face up to two years’ jail or a maximum RM5,000 fine, or both.
The mat lajak could also be fined a maximum of RM2,000 for illegal vehicle modification under Rule 42 (1) (a) of LN 166/59 Traffic Rules 1959.
Their bicycles could also be seized under Section 112(3) of the Road Transport Act 1987.
To prevent similar tragic bicycle incidents, I hope the police and local authorities could monitor the areas frequented by the young cyclists and arrest those who are still there after midnight.
Parents must also be compelled to attend a counselling session with their children who were involved in mosquito bike activities.
For repeat offenders, both the mosquito bike riders and their parents should be charged and the bicycles should be confiscated.
The authorities must also find a long-term solution for the mat rempit issue since it has spurred the emergence of these thrill-seeking underage children who are trying to emulate their seniors.
Since they can’t afford to buy motorcycles, these mat lajak are modifying and converting their bicycles into racing machines. Could they be using their parents’ money to pay for these modifications?
I hope the proposed anti-social behaviour law would also have a provision to enable the police to take action against parents who allow their children to be involved in illegal races and mosquito bike activities.
This is important since there were reports that some of the parents had encouraged and supported their children to modify their bicycles for joy rides.
We must also find the root cause for the mat rempit and mat lajak problems. There have been reports that they come from broken homes and lack parental guidance. Some of them also do not have proper places to release their energies or tension.
The Government needs to provide more sports facilities and recreational spaces for our youths and teenagers.
As for parents, they should never shirk their responsibility in the upbringing of their young children. They must know their children’s whereabouts at all times and do all that is necessary to ensure they are safe.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE
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