Friday, 19 March 2010

It’s all about ‘Malaysian Standards’

It’s all about ‘Malaysian Standards’

Friday, 19 March 2010 Super Admin

But then this is ‘Malaysian Standards’. And had I complied with the law, and had I used only ‘approved’ helmets instead of ‘illegal’ ones, I would probably have expired long ago. And many of my friends expired because they were too poor to own an AGV or Bell helmet, those approved by the Snell Foundation but not by SIRIM.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

‘Uncertified helmets are risky but hard to get off the market’

The government acknowledged the risks of using uncertified helmets and admitted that it was not easy to get rid of these products from the market unless the country practiced a close door economy.

Motorcyclists and pillion riders in Malaysia should only be using Sirim certified crash helmets, but apparently many were still using the uncertified ones.

Transport Deputy Minister Datuk Abd Rahim Bakri said the relevant authorities were concerned about the wide use of uncertified helmet but they could not stop them from coming to the country..........

“The problem is with the dealers who are not members of the association and who are still selling uncertified helmets. This is the one that we want to address now,” he said. – The Star


After writing about the Malaysian Parliament and Malaysian politics this whole week, maybe we can ‘tone down’ a bit today and talk about my other passion, motorcycling.

I was already tearing down the road on two wheels since 1966, as soon as I touched 16 and was old enough to possess a motorcycle licence. From 1966 to 1968 I suffered 12 bike accidents -- all my fault of course.

I decided to ‘slow down’ after that. I felt that my next accident, 13, would be when I check out for good. ‘13’ is an unlucky number, said my late mother. So I would probably not walk away from the next accident that I suffer.

I sold my Yamaha Twin and bought a Vespa scooter. That slowed me down a lot. But it was not long before I again craved for speed and soon after I bought a Suzuki 250, followed very closely by a Honda 350, Honda 450 DOHC and then a Yamaha 650 Twin. The Yamaha 650 was my favourite bike because it was designed after my dream bike, the Triumph Bonneville, something I could never afford.

I did, however, suffer my 13th accident after all, which turned out to be my luckiest accident yet. I was racing along the Lake Gardens with my wife riding pillion (then not my wife yet, though). I took that corner where ‘The Pines’ used to be before it was moved to Brickfields and this other bike tried to overtake me.

But the other bike skidded and banged into us. The front wheel of that bike hit my wife’s leg and I felt my bike shudder. Because my bike was heavier and more stable (the Honda 450) I managed to control it. I ‘slept’ the bike and roared out of the corner while the other bike hit a tree. That other chap was in real bad shape.

That was my last biking accident and the only one I did not have to crawl away from. It was also the first accident I suffered while my wife was riding pillion. I was lucky to have survived 13 bike accidents because over those many years I probably lost more than a dozen friends. So many of my friends died that I can’t even remember how many and what all their names were.

The most tragic one of all was probably the one involving Sheila Majid’s brother. A car hit him from behind and his bike hit the lamppost in front of the Chinese Maternity Hospital in Pudu. He broke his neck and many other bones in his body. Another of Sheila Majid’s brothers, who was riding pillion on my bother’s bike, rushed over to pick his brother up but he was already dead. It was immediate. It was heartbreaking to see him lying so peacefully on that cement slab in the HKL mortuary like he was just sleeping.

Another one involved someone I only remember by his nickname, ‘Danger is my Business’. He was one crazy son-of-a-bitch, as were all of us I suppose. He crashed in front of the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall and lay there for more than three hours. No one came to his aid. Even the police who passed by just drove off. Another friend who happened to be passing by saw him lying on the ground and took him to hospital but he was already in a coma. He never regained consciousness and died after some time.

My ‘killer’ accident was probably the one I suffered while racing in the 1968 Malaysian Grand Prix. I was riding a highly modified Yamaha 100 Twin (which I modified myself at home). The bike was too fast for its weight so it was a bitch to control. I skidded, hit a culvert, flew into the air, and landed on my head. I broke my arm but my head was spared although my helmet was in a bad shape. That was my 12th accident and the only one where I landed on my head. (Now you know why I am crazy. My head had been ‘readjusted’ in that accident).

I was lucky that my head was not split into two. This is because I was wearing a ‘non-approved’ crash helmet, not a SIRIM-approved helmet. You see, we did not believe in SIRIM-approved crash helmets. Instead, we would wear imported helmets, which SIRIM would never approve. Our favourite choice was Bell, or a full-face Bell Star if we had money. At worse, if we were short of cash, we would wear AGV helmets imported from Italy.

We always wore good helmets -- long before the compulsory helmet law was introduced in Malaysia. We would never ride without a helmet. And we wouldn’t touch ‘toy’ helmets with a ten-foot pole, especially those with SIRIM stickers on them.

If the police stopped us we would be issued a summons because the Bell or AGV helmets were not approved by SIRIM or had no SIRIM stickers on them. And for sure we would get into trouble if we wore a full-face helmet. These were banned by the government.

It seems full-face helmets are considered ‘dangerous’ because no one could see our faces. The police wanted to see our faces at all times, especially when we smash our faces in an accident. So we had to run the risk of riding with open-face helmets and pray that a stone or piece of metal is not flicked into our face by the car in front of us. There was also the danger of birds, bees and other forms of flying matter hitting our faces at 80 miles per hour. That would bring us down for sure. I once had a bee hit my face and it was damn painful with the sting sticking out of my check. Shit, did that hurt!

Anyway, government knows best, the old saying goes. But these Ministers who make the rules do not ride so they do not know what dangers motorcyclists face. They ride in the backseat of their Mercedes Benzes. And they never wonder why, after a crash, we have to go to hospital so that the doctor can extract bits and pieces of a shattered SIRIM-approved crash helmet from our skull. That hurts too, let me assure you.

More than 90% of the so-called SIRIM-approved crash helmets are pure crap. And helmets have a shelf life. If you drop your helmet too often it is advisable you scrap it and buy a new one. Wearing some of those ‘expired’ helmets is like playing Russian Roulette.

But then this is ‘Malaysian Standards’. And had I complied with the law, and had I used only ‘approved’ helmets instead of ‘illegal’ ones, I would probably have expired long ago. And many of my friends expired because they were too poor to own an AGV or Bell helmet, those approved by the Snell Foundation but not by SIRIM.

It is a bit too late now to cry and moan. Over the last 50 years, according to the statistics, probably 200,000 motorcyclists or thereabouts have died on Malaysian roads -- about 400,000-500,000 in total if you include car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. Work out the figures. They announce it every year and every ‘balek kampung’ exodus a few times a year.

Yes, ‘Uncle Sam’ knows best. Well, not quite. We who literally ‘hit the road’ know better. And I spoke to a few Chinese crash helmet manufacturers who market ‘toy helmets’ -- which cost about RM10 each to manufacture -- and they tell me they go for cheap manufacturing cost over quality and safety because the market is just too bloody crowded. So price and not quality or safety is the criteria.

Then they have to pay off the officials to obtain their SIRIM approval. As long as they pay ‘under-the-table’ they will get their SIRIM approval even if their helmets are crap. So the cost of the bribes makes up a portion of the helmet cost. This means they need to push their manufacturing cost even lower to cover the bribes. If not their selling price will be too high.

And it is not just the SIRIM certification that costs money. The HALAL certification also costs money because they have to pay bribes to get their ‘halal’ products approved. And those men in white skullcaps who never miss a Friday prayer in the mosque are the one who collect these bribes, just like the caretakers of the mosques whom my friend needs to bribe to get the mosque cleaning contracts.

A friend of mine was looking at turkeys in the supermarket and she discovered that the ‘halal’ turkeys cost more then the ‘non-halal’ ones. She asked to meet the supervisor and complained that this is discrimination against Muslims.

What to do, the supervisor replied. We have to pay a bribe to get the halal certificate so the halal turkey costs more. My friend said, then the halal turkey is more haram than the non-halal turkey, and she bought the one without the halal certificate.

Yes, Malaysian Standards. And that is also the problem with the public sector as well. Can you imagine the quality of deans of faculties, VCs, federal court judges and whatnot? How many of them have written and published books? And how many books have they published? I am not talking about the thesis for their PhD where most of the work is ‘ciplak’ or pirated. I am talking about books of international acclaim.

Deans and lecturers do not even mark the examination papers of their students. Many post-graduate students confess that they did not even submit their assignments and yet they passed the course and managed to go overseas for further studies. Many judges do not write their written judgements. How to write books like this?

Yes, Malaysian Standards. The only problem is Malaysia ‘takde standard’. And that is why the country is in the pits. How many of the 222 Members of the Malaysian Parliament can rattle off the Federal Constitution from the top of their heads? Members of Parliament should know the Constitution by heart. They should memorise every Article in the Constitution. Then they would not ‘talk cock’ in Parliament like now.

And what are the credentials of the UUM VC, Nordin Kardi? The only ‘credit’ to his name is the racist song below, Anak Kecil Main Api, which he wrote when he was head of the BTN, Malaysia’s brainwashing agency. And this is the man entrusted with the task of churning out the future leaders of this country.

God help Malaysia! Hell, maybe even God has given up on Malaysia!

Anak Kecil Main Api


Time to make it a Malaysian problem

Time to make it a Malaysian problem

MARCH 19 — Every time some politician makes an ill-advised remark about race or religion, there will be the inevitable deluge of comments reminding him where his true allegiance belongs. If the politician speaks out for the Malays or Islam, the chorus will be: “Remember, you are beholden to Malaysians, not the Malays/Muslims,” and if the politician speaks out for the non-Malays or non-Muslims, it will be, “Remember, you are beholden to the Malays, not the non-Malays.”

What infuriates me is that I agree with both sides — and yet they are both so insufferably smug in excluding other Malaysians and Malaysian concerns from their vision of what Malaysia should be.

It should be abundantly clear to all that when you serve the Malays, you are serving Malaysians, and when you serve the non-Malays, you are serving Malaysians. Yet this basic fact eludes so many of us.

When a Malay youth cannot find employment or education, that is not a Malay problem — that is a Malaysian problem. When a Hindu temple is torn down, that is not the desecration of a Hindu place of worship — that is the desecration of a Malaysian place of worship. We, as Malaysians, need to champion the solutions to these problems together, because who else will do it? Surely not the Singaporeans or the British!

But who among the non-Malays talks about the plight of the Malays or the Bumiputeras? If ever we talk about their problems, it is to make an insulting joke about their supposed ignorance, or to dismiss them as know-nothing bumpkins. Do we ever take seriously the problems Malay youth have in their schooling, or ponder how to help them into the mainstream of the modern Malaysian economy?

And how often do the Malays talk about the problems of the non-Malays? Is there ever recognition of the difficulties non-Malays encounter in obtaining public scholarships or government work? Is there ever a discussion of the non-Malays’ fear of Malay culture encroaching on their own traditions and way of life?

Some politicians, both from Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat, are valiantly trying to change our culture of ignoring other communities’ interests. 1 Malaysia, as much of an empty slogan as it is, is all about this idea, if nothing else.

Admirably, Pakatan politicians have made clear that they practise what they preach. Teresa Kok gives money to mosques; Lim Guan Eng attends Muslim festivities which his predecessors in the Penang government shunned. Meanwhile, Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat defends Bumiputera Christians’ usage of the word “Allah,” and Malay leaders from all Pakatan parties denounce the unfair treatment of the non-Malay communities.

But all this will be for naught unless we, the Malaysian rakyat, change. Why aren’t we taking responsibility for the Malaysian problems in our country? Why do we still not bother trying to find out why other Malaysians differ with us so strongly on an issue? Why are we content with dismissing them as arrogant ignoramuses, instead of recognising and working out our valid differences?

When a church is bombed, that is my problem. When a mosque is vandalised, that is my problem. When a Malay youth becomes a Mat Rempit, that is my problem. When a Chinese youth joins a triad, that is my problem. When a Penan girl is raped, that is my problem. When an Indian father becomes an alcoholic, that is my problem. Until we can all say and truly believe these things, where is our Bangsa Malaysia?

* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.

Anwar: Racism, not Christians, is the threat

Anwar: Racism, not Christians, is the threat

By Shannon Teoh

LONDON, March 19 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has slammed as “ridiculous” the idea that Muslims in Malaysia were under threat from Christians, and instead accused Umno of sanctioning racism.

“In this Allah issue, the idea that Muslims are under threat from Christians is ridiculous to say the least,” he said at a press conference, after his talk at the London School of Economics here yesterday.

“They are playing with fire,” he said and added that the prime minister’s 1 Malaysia slogan, based on a united Malaysia, was not consistent with what was happening on the ground.

“Malaysia is not a Muslim state, or... well, I’m not sure now,” he joked. “But it is not secular either because there is not a total separation of religion and state.”

He explained that while countries like the United States are seen as secular, they were in fact built on religious principles.

Earlier in his talk, which saw hundreds being turned away, he accused Umno of simply feigning interest in Islamic values.

“What Umno has done is not about Islamic issues at all. If you find a committed Muslim, you can argue with him, but in Umno, they don’t even want to understand what Islam is about.

“It is just political expediency and a crude blend of politics. It is distasteful, the way they abuse the Chinese,” he added, in seeming reference to a recent racist statement by Datuk Nasir Safar, made when he was still an aide to the prime minister.

“There should be freedom not just for an ex-deputy prime minister,” he said in reference to the overturning of his sodomy conviction in 2004, “but all Malaysians.”

Anwar went on to explain that the basic issue was one of governance, and added that the strength of Islam in South East Asia was in its inclusivity and moderate position, which took into consideration the interests of other religions.

“The moment Syariah courts can compel non-Muslims, it transgresses fundamentals of the Constitution. It becomes contentious when you deny the rights of non-Muslims or use obscure Syariah interpretation to impose on non-Muslims.

“We need to educate Umno leaders,” said the former deputy president of the Malay party, drawing laughs from the 400-strong audience of mostly Malaysian students at the talk.