I AM quite distressed by all the news about the “mat lajak” (youngsters who race or perform stunts on modified bicycle) and what seems to be instances of pandering to this group.
As a cyclist myself, I feel the politicians need to understand that this activity has nothing to do with cycling per se. It would be disingenuous for our young Youth and Sports Minister, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, to think that from here, some future stars will come up for cycling sports.
Firstly, what these young people are really doing are giving into the need for speed and enjoying some excitement in their lives. Getting them into cycling as a sport will not happen, not because I am biased against them but because they are not interested in cycling in the first place.
Their bicycles have the brakes removed and are lowered so they can lay flat and develop sufficient momentum to reach speeds that will make their hair stand up. Such bicycles will not pass any of the current cycling competitions’ regulations, nor is there even a category for such cycling so far (unless Malaysia wants to take the lead and introduce this type of cycling at the SEA Games, which the minister can do, I suppose).
Cycling as a competition sport like keirin, track or even road or mountain bicycle races involves developing muscles and strength and stamina through plain hard and disciplined work. There is just pain and more pain and suffering and sacrifices to reach the top, there is nothing there like going downhill at full speed except for downhill mountain racing.
What I am equally distressed about is the fact that our politicians are not attending to the deeper issues that underlie the emergence of this subgroup; and these issues have been around for years, as demonstrated by the “mat lepak”, “mat rempit”, and now, “mat lajak”.
Since these guys are good at modifying their bicycles to lower the centre of gravity, the minister should send them to physics and engineering schools so they can push themselves and their equipment close to the speed of sound. I feel this will be more in line with their interests.
But please do not link what they do to cycling, otherwise all of us real cyclists will need to gather outside the Youth and Sports Minister’s office to get our views across.
And in line with this, maybe we should increase highway speed limits to accommodate this group of users, in line with current aspirations to “help them”.
KERISO , Kuala Lumpur
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