IN April 2009, former inspector- general of police Tan Sri Musa Hassan told reporters that the mat rempit were a group of youngsters who were violent and brazen instead of just being a public nuisance.
Seven years ago, I highlighted my concerns over the mat rempit menace after the death of Corporal Mustaghni Tabri, who succumbed to serious head injuries after being struck by a blunt object while performing his duties in one of the road safety operations against illegal racers in 2012.
Today, a stunt rider can be as young as nine years old. As he is too young to ride a motorcycle, he hops onto a modified bicycle and rides daringly in a group.
These juvenile stunt riders known as mat lajak are as fearless as the mat rempit when performing dangerous stunts on the road. Once they have attained the age of 16, they would likely upgrade to the rank of mat rempit.
Two years ago, eight mat lajak were hit by a car and killed on a highway in Johor in the early hours of the morning.
In a road safety operation conducted just a couple of days ago, police detained 13 mat lajak, aged between nine and 15 years, for riding recklessly on their modified bicycles in Kajang. Surprisingly, the brakes on many of the modified bicycles had been removed.
Although I feel that the authorities have not been able to curb the menace effectively, parents of these two groups of delinquent youngsters should shoulder more of the blame for not guiding and disciplining their children properly. Children are born innocent and need a lot of guidance especially in their formative years.
The authorities should focus more attention in finding the underlying factors causing the delinquency instead of just detaining and reprimanding the stunt riders and their parents. By doing so, the authorities are only addressing the symptom rather than the root cause.
To formulate an effective programme to tackle this menace, the authorities must rope in the right experts such as child counsellors, criminologists, retired police officers, etc, so that they can offer their help.
Besides being their guardians, parents are also their children’s first teachers. Thus, it is vital that parents guide their children properly to become law-abiding citizens.