KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) says it is opposed to giving discounts to corporate clients as this could mean cutting corners and compromising the safety of patients and standard of care. Its president, Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin, said another reason was that the practice of medicine was not a trade but a service and hence should not be commercialised. Writing in the President’s Column of MMA’s latest newsletter, he said corporate discounts, especially mooted by large multinational bodies and insurance companies, appeared to make the practice of medicine a business as opposed to what it should be — a profession whereby the primary role of the doctor is to provide appropriate medical care to the patient. “The interest of patients should always come first, especially beyond any business consideration,” said Dr Khoo. He added that the time of doctors should be spent entirely on the provision of patient care rather than having to deal with distractions such as negotiating with large corporations in the matter of discounts or deals. Dr Khoo said that at present doctors’ fees were based on the MMA’s schedule, which included consultation and procedural fees for general practitioners and specialist consultants. The fees schedule was introduced way back in 1987 and had been revised three times to keep up with current costs. The last revision was in 2002. Dr Khoo said that generally the fees schedule had been well accepted by all stakeholders and there were no major issues regarding its validity and acceptance. In fact, the government recently reinforced the legitimacy of the MMA schedule by adopting it almost entirely for the regulations of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 2006. “What started as a guideline three decades ago has now become law,” said Dr Khoo.
KAJANG: Learner drivers will soon have to go through a more comprehensive syllabus so that they can become better drivers. The new curriculum will close the “gaps”, mostly in the area of road safety, in the current syllabus while tests may be conducted in cars or motorcycles fitted with video cameras, sensors and instruments that will detect every move – and mistake – which the driver makes. The new curriculum, which will be implemented in the next three to six months, has been drawn up by the Malaysian Institute for Road Safety and Research (Miros) which was set up by the Government to improve road safety. Miros director-general Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said the new curriculum was part of a larger programme called the Road User Assessment Programme (RUAP). “The ultimate aim is to create five-star drivers,” he said. He said that while the rest of the world took a “systems approach” which looked at enforcement and infrastructure, Malaysia wanted to focus on the road user. As an example, Prof Radin Umar said that under the current motorcycle syllabus, unlike for cars, riders were only trained and tested in a circuit. “This is a controlled environment and offers the learner no experience of what it is like in the real world. “In future, learners will be taken out on the road where they will be exposed to real world traffic during training. “Their tests will also be carried in real world traffic,” he said. Prof Radin Umar said motorcycle learners would go out in groups of eight together with two instructors in conspicuously coloured motorcycles to ensure their safety. On the instrumented vehicles, Prof Radin Umar said the video cameras and sensors installed would enable driver behaviour and habits while on the road to be monitored objectively. “The vehicles are still being calibrated and will have to be tested extensively before being implemented,” he said. Prof Radin Umar said another aspect of RUAP was that surveys on Malaysian road users would be carried out periodically. This was to assess how good the users were in understanding traffic laws. “This will also serve as a way to get feedback to further improve our driving syllabus and other aspects of RUAP,” he said. Prof Radin Umar said RUAP was a long-term initiative to create a safer road environment. “We hope to be able to have drivers who are not only aware of safety procedures but also know why it’s there,” he said.
KUALA LUMPUR: At least 29 people have died from the floods which have hit various states since early this month. Kelantan recorded 14 deaths, followed by Pahang with 11 deaths – three of which in the last 48 hours – and Johor with four deaths as of yesterday. In Pahang, two of the latest victims were found floating in Sungai Endau in Rompin by search and rescue personnel at about 10.30am yesterday. They were identified as Zamri Mohamad, 29, of Kampung Lang Kiri and Indonesian Atong, 50, an estate worker. Both men were reported missing on Sunday after going fishing near the river. Paraplegic Mohd Yuslan Othman, 30, drowned near his home in Kampung Serandu in Pekan late on Monday. The number of evacuees has increased from 22,549 to 23,026 people. They are being housed in 142 flood relief centres. Pekan recorded the highest number with 10,193 people in 40 centres. Other districts affected were Temerloh (4,069 people), Maran (3,235), Bera (2,257), Rompin (2,057) and Kuantan (1,215). Roads into Pekan from Kuantan, Muadzam Shah and Rompin were still cut off due to floods. In Kelantan, the number of evacuees increased to 8,352 from 2,000. A dam bursting in Narathiwat in southern Thailand has aggravated the situation. Most of the newly evacuated were residents from the Tumpat district. The latest fatality was reported yesterday. The road from Gua Musang to Kota Baru remained impassable due to landslides. Motorists from Kuala Lumpur should use the East-West Highway instead of the road to Gua Musang. The Meteorological Department has issued a Yellow Stage advisory on heavy rain for the state and neighbouring Terengganu. In Johor, the situation improved as the number of flood evacuees declined to 2,994. There were 814 families temporarily housed in 39 flood relief centres statewide as of 4pm yesterday. The worst hit district is Muar with 1,504 victims in 13 centres. Segamat is second with 1,179 victims at 19 centres followed by Johor Baru with 230 victims in three centres and Batu Pahat with 63 victims, also in three centres. Flood relief centres in Kluang, Mersing and Pontian have closed after evacuees were allowed to go home. The Meteorological Department said moderate rain currently occurring in Johor was expected to continue until tomorrow. It has issued an Orange Stage warning for Segamat, Muar, Batu Pahat, Kluang, Johor Baru, Kota Tinggi and Mersing.
JOHOR BARU: Fifteen Puspakom staff have been sacked this year for corruption and not following the standard operation procedure when inspecting vehicles. Chief executive officer Datuk Salamat Wahit said the company had reported all criminal misdeeds to the police and Anti-Corruption Agency. On the recent arrest of three Puspakom staff in the state, he said the company welcomed the ACA’s move. “Our company views such matters very seriously as it is important to ensure that vehicles that are not roadworthy are taken off the roads so that they do not pose a threat to other road users,” he said in a statement. Salamat hoped that the public would help Puspakom by providing tip offs and information for the company to take the appropriate action. Those with information can directly contact Salamat at 019-3859666. The number is being displayed in all the 66 branches of Puspakom nationwide.
KUALA LUMPUR: A couple said to be able to steal a car in under a minute has been arrested. Police nabbed the couple from Perak as they were getting into a stolen car in Taman Tasik, Ampang, at 1.15pm on Dec 8. Ampang Jaya police chief Asst Comm Abdul Jalil Hassan said the couple were professional car thieves and had all the latest equipment used to steal cars. Police recovered a Toyota Vios, Perodua Myvi, Naza Citra and two Proton Iswaras from the couple, who were active in the Klang Valley. “We are investigating whether the couple have any international links,” he said.
JOHOR BARU: Two smuggling syndicates that use two ports in Johor before using Singapore as a transit point to ship stolen vehicles to Kenya and the United Arab Emirates have been busted. Police recovered 32 stolen vehicles worth more than RM3.4mil. Some of the models include Toyota Hilux, Toyota Fortuner, Nissan X-Trail, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Innova. The vehicles were reported stolen in Johor, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Negri Sembilan and Penang. A series of raids by a task force also led to the arrest of 50-year-old Malaysian man and two Singaporean men, aged 26 and 28. The syndicates would hide the stolen vehicles in containers before taking them to Pasir Gudang Port and Tanjung Pelepas Port. They then shipped the containers through these two ports to the Keppel Terminal in Singapore before exporting them to the UAE and Kenya. They used Singapore as a transit point because of easier access to the overseas market. Forged declaration documents stating that the shipments were furniture and vehicle spare parts were used to deceive Customs officers. Johor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Hussin Ismail said 12 4WD vehicles in four containers were seized from a Tanjung Kupang warehouse on Nov 21. A week later, they picked up the three men at an empty warehouse in Bukit Batu, Kulai. Police later recovered another 12 vehicles at Pasir Gudang Port. Police intercepted a shipment of cars at the Keppel Terminal with the help of the Singapore police.
JOHOR BARU: An unemployed man had 10 charges against him in two magistrate’s courts here over an insurance scam involving more than RM1.2mil. Chong Chee Seng, 46, from Taman Soon Chong, in Chaah, Segamat, was alleged to have committed the offences from 1992 to 2002. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges. He was alleged to have committed the offences against two insurance companies at 101, Tingkat 1, Pan Global Plaza, Jalan Wong Ah Fook in Johor Baru, Johor. He was alleged to have submitted false death certificates, burial permits, police reports, attending physician’s statements and medical reports under the names of 10 people. He was also accused of cheating the insurance companies into making policy payouts over the alleged deaths of the policyholders. He was charged with five counts in each of the two magistrate’s courts he was brought to. In the first court presided by magistrate Rasidah Roslee, the offences involved a sum totalling more than RM751,000. Rasidah fixed bail at RM39,000 for all the five charges. In the second court presided by magistrate Nor Shahid Abd. Malik, the sum involved in the charges was more than RM499,400 and bail was fixed at RM27,000. Both Rasidah and Nor Shahid fixed March 26 trial. The accused failed to post bail.
KUALA LUMPUR: Duty before profit. This is the advice from Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin to doctors. He said they should be guided by clinical expertise and not insurance companies. “Although the insurance coverage depends on how much premium you pay, the companies should not restrict doctors from conducting tests they think are necessary for patients. “Doctors know what’s best for their patients,” he said. Life Insurance Association of Malaysia president Sonny Tan, however, denied that insurance companies were restricting coverage to only certain cases and tests. “Insurance companies don’t own the hospitals. We can’t dictate what doctors should or shouldn’t do,” he said. Tan added that doctors should not concentrate on how much money their patients were paying to determine what kind of treatment should be given to them. “If you go to private hospitals, the first thing they will ask is ‘do you have insurance coverage?’. This is a sad thing,” he said. He added most insurance companies were not making money from healthcare as the cost of private healthcare increased every year. “Medical cost increases by about 13 per cent a year. But we can’t easily raise premiums as it will affect our customers,” he said. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek yesterday highlighted the issue of insurance companies restricting coverage to only certain cases and tests conducted by doctors. He had also expressed concern over exorbitant rates charged by private hospitals, saying “the rates are going up by the day and are profit-driven”. Dr Chua had said that the government was concerned about the steep charges and the matter had been discussed by the cabinet. Malaysian Medical Council president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the council had received complaints on hospitals billing patients exorbitantly.
Cabinet Concerned Over High Medical Rates PUTRAJAYA: A patient who was checked on 15 times a day while he was staying at a private hospital was charged RM3,000. Another was billed RM2,000 for the 10 times he was checked on. These patients have the right to file official complaints. Ticking off private hospitals and doctors who hit patients with ever increasing fees, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the Cabinet was concerned about these exorbitant charges on patients, including unnecessary tests. “Certain parties are trying to rake in profits by charging patients too much,” he told a press conference yesterday after meeting officials of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA). “The public has a right to complain. There are guidelines for charges. Some doctors, who are famous, increase their charges to control the number of patients they see.” Dr Chua said they could complain to the MMA or the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) which has the power to take action on complaints, especially on ethical issues such as issuing warning, suspension or deregistration. He also said that charges by doctors would continue to increase because of the rising healthcare cost for medication, equipment and IT components. “It is not just to look after the sick but also a business undertaking where the profit line is important to shareholders,” he said. Under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, he said 29 clinics had been sealed and 19 “fake” doctors traced. On the extension of housemanship from one year to two years, Dr Chua said it was important for patients to get proper treatment from qualified doctors. A total of 603 housemen failed to get fully registered from the 1,200 yearly from 2001 to 2004. It was 176 in 2001, 162 in 2002, 102 in 2003, 118 in 2004 and 45 two years ago. “These figures are worrying for a developing country. It is nearly 10%. Most is for poor work performance and some of them just take unpaid leave and disappear because they say the medical profession is not suitable for them. This cannot continue,” he said. Dr Chua said senior doctors had been instructed that they must supervise and train the younger ones.
Health minister concerned as patients query RM3,000 ‘how are you?’ bills. PUTRAJAYA: Imagine, you’re in hospital and the doctor comes around 15 times a day to ask “how are you?” Now think about the bill. At RM200 per visit, you end up forking out RM3,000 a day, just on consultations – needed or otherwise. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told the cabinet about two patients who experienced this and the ministers were not happy. The government, he said, was concerned about the exorbitant charges at some private hospitals and the “unnecessary” tests they recommended. “Some doctors feel that the investigations are necessary. These are, however, debatable and contentious. “The public has the right to lodge complaints with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) if they are unhappy with the services or ethics of doctors,” Dr Chua said after a meeting with the MMA yesterday. The MMC, he said, could issue warnings, suspend doctors or de-register them if they were guilty of committing an offence. But he added that it was inevitable that the cost of healthcare would rise because of the increasing cost of medication, equipment, and the introduction of information technology into hospitals. He also said that the Health Ministry’s enforcement unit had shut down 29 clinics for various offences and caught 19 bogus doctors. Enforcement will be beefed up next year when 30 officers are added to the current 70-man team. On the meeting with MMA, he said the ministry agreed that insurance companies should not limit doctors’ fees and tests in their policies. The insurers are subject to the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and must register with the ministry. “They are subject to clauses under the law… this includes the services by doctors to patients covered by insurance companies. We feel the clinical judgment of medical practitioners should not be compromised by these companies.”
PUTRAJAYA: In the past 10 months alone, about 55,000 motorcyclists have been caught riding their vehicles without a valid driver’s licence while another 9,507 had expired licences. The total number of summonses issued to motorcyclists for these and various other offences stands at 253,155, according to police statistics. Due to this and the fact that motorcyclists and pillion riders are still recording more deaths than others in road accidents, the Government will hold Ops Sikal throughout the year. Ops Sikal which started right after Ops Sikap ended on Oct 22 is targeted to reduce fatalities among motorcyclists by six a day and 1,000 a year, said Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh. He said from Nov 8 to Nov 22 the number of motorcyclists and pillion riders dying on the road was 103 of the 182 total deaths recorded. Joint operations by the department, the police and the Road Transport Department (JPJ), he said had managed to reduce accidents to a certain extent but there was room for improvement. “The crackdown on express buses had been good since it started some time in August because from Nov 8 to Nov 22 no fatal accidents involving buses had been recorded,” he told reporters at a media briefing. Suret added that about 90% of rural motorcyclists were now wearing safety helmets after the department started its campaign at 150 rural districts. “We are still not satisfied until we see 100% motorcyclists using helmets in rural areas,” he said, reminding motorcyclists to also buckle up their helmets as 68% of the 3,693 fatalities involving motorcyclists were through head injuries. “This applies also to cyclists, especially students,” he said, hoping to have a campaign in future to give students bicycle helmets to create awareness.
KUALA LUMPUR — Motor vehicle sales in Malaysia continued to improve in October to record a 4.9 percent increase to 42,915 units compared with 36,653 units in the corresponding month of last year. In a statement here today, Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) said, however, against September this year, sales were down by 5.5 percent, or 2,601 units. “The lower sales were due to shorter working month because of Hari Raya festive holidays,” it said. MAA said year-to-date vehicle sales declined to 401,149 units compared with 418,056 units in the same period in 2006. “Passenger cars accounted for 39,198 units and commercial vehicles 3,717 units for the sales in October this year. MAA said total industry production in October 2007 rose to 34,829 units from 29,872 units in the same period last year. “Passenger cars accounted for 31,480 units and commercial vehicles 3,149 units,” it said. It said for the first ten months of this year total production fell to 361,969 units, comprising 330,001 units of passenger cars and 31,988 units of commercial vehicles compared with 429,896 units in the same period last year. On the outlook for November 2007, MAA said, the sales volume was expected to be slightly better.
PUTRAJAYA: More than 90% of 38,486 motorcyclists checked by the Road Transport Department in a recent operation did not possess a valid licence. “In addition, we found during the operation that the road tax of 2,111 motorcyclists had expired,” said RTD enforcement director Salim Parlan. “This is serious because if these motorcyclists are involved in an accident, they would have no insurance coverage,” he told members of the media after a meeting between RTD, the Road Safety Department, Malaysia Institute of Road Safety Research, the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board and the police on Wednesday. “Just this morning alone, we issued 277 summonses against motorcyclists, 214 of whom had no road tax. “Based on these findings and the fact that motorcyclists form the biggest group of road deaths, we have decided to target them in our next enforcement exercise,” he said, adding that the current operation – Ops Bersih III – would last until Dec 4. Salim said that during the operation targeting express buses between Aug 22 and Oct 6, RTD officers had managed to check 952 buses at the country’s 33 terminals. “Our undercover officers also reported 3,385 cases of drivers flouting various offences during this period,” he said.
KOTA TINGGI: Almost 800 people were evacuated here when their homes were hit by pre-dawn floods. The flood victims were better prepared this time, after experiencing one of the worst floods in the country’s history last December and in January this year. Kota Tinggi OCPD Supt Osman Mohamed Sebot said 755 people from 285 families were placed in three evacuation centres Monday as waters rose in Taman Aman, Taman Mawai, Kampung Batu 25, and Kampung Sungai Berangan. Rescue efforts started as early as 3am, as continuous rain brought water levels up to two metres high. Kampung Batu 25 resident Jana Mohamad, 45, said she started packing some clothes and moved her other belongings, including electrical items, to higher shelves in the house when she saw the flood waters rising. “We know what to do now, and this time the flood waters were not as high as last time,” she said. But as she was leaving her house, Jana said she was swept by strong currents and had to cling to the fence before she managed to swim to higher grounds. Her neighbour, Zainani Zakaria, 39, said although they had experienced worse floods, she and her family were nonetheless worried. “We did not dare sleep. We were all scared. How are we to know how high the waters will rise?” she said.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bar Council has expressed its concern over the no-fault liability scheme proposed by the Attorney-General to replace the current mode of compensation and claims over road accidents. Its chairman Ambiga Sreenevasan said that while she welcomed Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s initiative that had the best interest of road accident victims and their families in mind, the Bar noted that there had not been any in-depth study on the scheme’s viability and relevance in Malaysia. In a statement yesterday, she said victims of road accidents would now include “the reckless, selfish and dangerous drivers, the speed demons, the drunkards and the Mat Rempit” as there was no concept of “fault” in the scheme. “The deterrent element currently in-built in the present system will be demolished,” she said, adding that statistics gleaned from other jurisdictions with such a scheme showed the rate of accidents increased on its introduction. Ambiga said the scheme would also lead to a limit of the current categories of compensation that could be claimed by accident victims, resulting in the innocent or “blameless victims” being worse off compared to the current system. She said motor insurance premiums were likely to increase with the introduction of the scheme, which would further burden the majority of Malaysians. To address these issues, Ambiga said the Bar had presented a detailed memorandum to Abdul Gani that provides for an alternative mechanism. Spearheaded by the Kuala Lumpur Bar Committee with the judiciary, she said this initiative to revamp the current system should be given a chance to prove its worth.
SHAH ALAM — The Road Transport Department (JPJ) said tonight it would look out for more than 8,000 motorists notified to surrender their driving licence during an upcoming operation against traffic offenders. JPJ deputy director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan said Ops Bersih III from Nov 5 to Dec 4 would trace these motorists — 7,972 of them holding the permanent driving licence and 305 others the provisional licence — who had chalked up the maximum 15 and 10 points respectively under the demerit system for committing traffic offences. He told a news conference that these people should not be on the road and advised them to surrender their licence or they would face problems when detained during the operation. “Those who fail to surrender the licence after having received the notification to do so can be fined RM300 for the offence,” he said. Solah also said that the traffic operation would involve checking on the tyres and brakes of buses at 36 major bus terminals in the country as well as on the drivers to determine whether they had chalked up the maximum demerit points.
KUALA LUMPUR — These days, federal traffic police chief SAC II Hamza Taib has many reasons to smile. For one, the nationwide traffic police operation, ‘Ops Sikap XIII’ which ended on Oct 21, recorded a 4.7 per cent drop in fatal accidents during the Hari Raya festive season. It is a welcome sign, compared with the statistics recorded in Ops Sikap XI for Hari Raya last year. “Dedicated and intensive enforcement measures taken by traffic policemen nationwide have contributed to the drop in fatalities on our roads. “This means that we have achieved our objective for this year, reducing accidents and ensuring smooth traffic flow on the highways and roads,” Hamza told Bernama in an interview recently. Another reason the nation’s top traffic police chief is elated is the personal commendation he received from Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy over the reduction in road fatalities and accidents. “The minister told me that he was happy that the police managed to reduce the fatalities in Ops Sikap XIII. “During the Hari Raya festive season last year, Ops Sikap XI recorded 213 fatal accidents. This year, we managed to bring it down to 203 — a drop by 10 cases,” he said. However, the fatalities could have been much lower had motorcyclists been more reponsible and patient on the roads, he said. He said that although there was a 20.4 per cent drop in deaths involving motorcycles to 121 cases, from 152 last year, they still accounted for the highest fatalities under Ops Sikap XIII. Thus, he would make reducing fatalities involving motorcyclists his priority as the traffic chief, he added. Hamza said about 5,190 traffic policemen were deployed nationwide in Ops Sikap XIII which was held from Oct 7 to 21.
KUALA LUMPUR — The National Health Insurance Scheme, as proposed in the Ninth Malaysia Plan, has to be implemented carefully to ensure it is accepted by people at all levels of society, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told the Dewan Rakyat Thursday. He said while the scheme was proposed with a noble intention to offset the high medical cost borne by the government and the people, the ministry was aware of the implications and obstacles from financing of the scheme. “Planning for the scheme will take into account studies commissioned by the government, inputs and feedback from various parties, including from the public and private sectors and non-governmental organisations. “The government is also studying various models, including experiences of foreign countries,” he said in his written reply to Datuk Suhaili Abdul Rahman (BN-Labuan). The scheme, whose implementation mechanism and date have not been finalised, would provide the people better access to medical treatment and help check spiralling medical costs, he said. “The scheme will also provide more flexibility and freedom in opting for the preferred healthcare either in the public or private sector,” he said. While the national insurance scheme was compulsory for all Malaysian citizens and permanent residents, the people would not be prevented from buying private health, accident or life insurance, he said. The government would ensure nobody was deprived access to quality, efficient and comprehensive healthcare, he added.
KUALA LUMPUR: The stringent enforcement following the death of 22 express bus passengers two months ago has paid off. Ops Sikap XIII, which ended on Sunday, had recorded fewer deaths. But the most surprising fact was that none involved passengers of express buses. Despite an additional 1,900 express and stage buses on the roads during the festive season, there were no accidents involving buses. Last year, during the same festive season, there were about four such accidents and most were caused by reckless drivers. “This shows that enforcement, if carried out diligently, works,” said Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh. He said several measures were put into place after the bus crash in Bukit Gantang in August, which yielded results. He urged the authorities not to take the foot off the pedal. “We had poorly maintained buses replaced and errant drivers removed. Stringent checks were carried out before a bus began its journey.” One problem the authorities faced was trying to stop passengers from buying tickets from touts. Illegal buses were stopped and taken to the nearest towns where the passengers were ordered to buy tickets from licensed operators. Undercover policemen were also placed on buses to monitor the drivers. The officers issued 363 summonses to bus drivers for breaking various traffic rules. “All these measures have paid off. Checks will continue at 33 bus terminals nationwide.” Malaysia Institute Road Safety Research director-general Prof Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said the operation had reduced fatalities despite heavier traffic volume. Ops Sikap XIII recorded 225 fatalities — 121 were motorcyclists and pillion riders, 54 were car drivers and passengers and the third-highest was pedestrians who made up 23 fatalities. The number of fatalities during the operation last year was 228. The number of accidents, however, went up by 195, from 15,716 to 15,911.
KUALA LUMPUR — A total of 224 people were killed in road accidents during the 15-day Ops Sikap 13 which ended yesterday. Sixteen people died on the last day of the operation launched on Oct 7 to reduce road accidents and deaths during the Aidilfitri celebration. Eleven of the dead were motorcyclists and pillion riders, four car drivers and a pedestrian, Bukit Aman traffic police chief SAC II Hamza Taib said in a statement Monday. Of the 854 accidents reported, 308 occurred on town roads, federal roads (230), state roads (164), highways (107) and other roads (45). A total of 9,255 summonses were issued to errant road users yesterday.
PENANG — The Road Transport Department has been asked to take immediate action against drivers who have picked up the maximum points under the demerit penalty system, as they pose a danger to other road users. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the department should cooperate with the police to go after drivers who had collected a high number of points but refused to pay their outstanding summonses or surrender to the authorities. “Keep these dangerous drivers off the road,” he told reporters after chairing the Penang MCA liaison committee meeting here today. RTD director-general Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid was reported to have said on Friday that warrants of arrest would be issued against 21,000 drivers who had collected maximum points under the demerit system but refused to pay the summonses issued to them.
KUALA LUMPUR — Eleven people died in road accidents yesterday, bringing to 209 the total number of fatalities since Ops Sikap XIII was launched early this month. Six of the dead were motorcyclists and pillion riders, four car drivers and a lorry driver, Bukit Aman traffic police said in a statement. Of the 890 accidents reported, 341 occurred on town roads, federal roads (240), state roads (172), highways (92) and other roads (45), it said. A total of 8,940 summonses were issued to errant motorists during the 14 days the traffic operations were carried out nationwide, it said. Ops Sikap XIII, launched on Oct 7 to reduce road accidents and deaths during Aidilfitri celebrations, ends today, it added.
KUALA LUMPUR — The first day of the launching of `Ops Sikap 13′ Sunday recorded 20 deaths from 15 fatal accidents throughout the country. Federal Traffic Police Chief, SAC II Hamza Taib said although the number of fatalities on the first day of the operation was higher compared to the 18 deaths on the first day of Ops Sikap 11 during the Aidilfitri festive season last year, the total number of road accidents had actually dropped by 106 cases. “On the first day of Ops Sikap 11, there were 1,042 road mishaps reported nationwide with 16 fatal accidents. During the operation this time around, there were only 936 accidents on the first day with 15 fatal accidents. “Although the number of fatalities had risen, I am satisfied that the operation this time showed effectiveness as there was a reduction in the total number of accidents, including fatal cases,” he said when contacted by Bernama, here today. Hamza said the comparison was made against Ops Sikap 11 as it was launched in conjunction with the Aidilfitri festive season whereas Ops Sikap 12 was launched in conjunction with the Chinese New Year. Hamza said that out of the 20 deaths in the operation this time, motorcyclists continued to record the highest number with seven deaths, followed by passengers of multi-purpose vehicles (MPV) (4), pedestrians (3), car passengers (2), car drivers (2), drivers of other vehicles (1) and MPV drivers (1). Meanwhile, urban roads recorded the highest number of accidents with 415 cases followed by Federal roads (248), state roads (151), highways (86) and other roads (36).
KUALA LUMPUR — A joint database system for all road enforcement agencies will be set up to enable each agency to access information on a particular driver and vehicle more easily and effectively. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said hopefully the implementation of the single system would be able to coordinate and improve the quality of the existing database which was considered ineffective. “In the past, if the Road Transport Department (JPJ) wished to seek information on a particular vehicle, they would have to contact the police for such information. “This method was time consuming and sometimes the information needed could not be obtained at the time it was required because of certain flaws in the system,” he told reporters after appearing on the live TV programme “Issue Semasa” on RTM1 tonight. He said each enforcement agency, whether the JPJ, Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board or police would be able to access the new system directly without having to contact the other agencies beforehand to obtain the required information. Musa said the new system would also be linked to the National Registration Department (NRD) to facilitate the authorities in obtaining the latest address of a particular driver or vehicle owner who had committed a traffic offence. “Previously, many problems were encountered when a particular driver could not be traced because of a change in the home address. If there is a link with the NRD it will be easier because the information on the person concerned would be more up to date.
PUTRAJAYA — Major bus builders in the country have complied with the ECE R66 European Union international standard in manufacturing their buses since 2004. Road Transport Department (RTD) Technical Director Zahamail Omar (repeat Zahamail Omar) said this is largely due to the fact that these bus builders used the Australian Design Rule (ADR) standard, which already incorporated the ECE R66 when constructing their buses for the export market. “The problem now is with the small bus manufacturers. They do not understand the need to follow the regulation and are opposing it,” he told Bernama here today. The ECE R66 is an international standard that require solid roofing on buses so that they will stay in one piece should they be involved in roll-over accidents, affording survival space for passengers. Zahamail said in order to obtain the approval, the super-structure of the vehicle should be of sufficient strength to withstand the roll-over accident and simulations or crash tests had to be done before the design could be approved for construction. However, he said since such tests with real vehicle structures are costly, most of the companies would used simulations, based on the calculation of laden weight, chassis and dynamics of the materials used. “The design must be certified by a design engineer and then submitted to RTD for approval. Once approved, the builders can start constructing the bus, with the process being supervised by an engineer,” he said. He said this was conveyed to 48 bus manufacturers in a letter dated Aug 21 by the RTD and followed up with a meeting chaired by him on Aug 29, which was attended by 55 people representing bus manufacturers and companies. Zahamail said the bus manufacturers can overcome this requirement by asking their chassis suppliers to supply them with the required roofing design and build according to it. He said most of the chassis suppliers — Scania, Nissan, Volvo, Mercedes, MAN and Mitsubishi have ECE R66 compliance designs but the builders are reluctant to use them because of their high cost. “That is why previously, most of the suppliers were only keen to provide the manufacturers with the chassis but without the roof design. With the introduction of this new regulation, we hope the situation will change,” he said. Citing Spain as an example, Zahamail said after the ECE R66 standard was adopted, crash fatalities reduced significantly in that country. Malaysia adopted the ECE R66 standard after 23 people died in an express bus accident near Bukit Gantang on Aug 13, as part of the Ministry of Transport’s new preventive measures to avoid high fatalities in similar incidents. However, a month after the accident and the ministry’s announcement, the bus manufacturers claimed that they are still waiting for the guidelines of the new bus roof structure. Some complained that business was affected badly as they could not construct any new buses after that accident because they are unsure of the standard required by the government.
KUALA LUMPUR: The Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board will issue up to 1,000 temporary permits to increase the number of express buses in view of the balik kampung rush during Hari Raya next month. The board’s chairman Datuk Markiman Kobiran said the number of permits available this year was about 300 more than last year due to the concern that some drivers might stay away because of enforcement operations. “However, we do not forecast any shortage of drivers. If they (company) are to apply for the permit, the bus has to come with a driver,” he said. Markiman said the permits would be issued based on demand to allow factory buses or school buses to be used as express buses, adding that school buses that were less than 10 years old would be allowed to make trips of over 300km. However, passengers would have to pay an additional RM3 over the normal express bus ticket.
JOHOR BARU: Police believe they have smashed a car theft syndicate specialising in Proton Wajas following the arrest of six men. A task force comprising officers from Nusa Jaya and Johor Baru (north) districts had been monitoring the syndicate members over sometime before closing in on them. On Sept 10, the task force detained two men putting false number plates on a Proton Waja in Taman Nusajaya Emas. Mobile phones, a metal file, screwdrivers and a set of modified keys from seized from the men. Later in the day, the team arrested another two suspects in Taman Ungku Tun Aminah and recovered another Proton Waja. The next day, two more men were arrested. Johor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Hussin Ismail said altogether, police recovered seven Proton Wajas in Nusa Jaya and Skudai areas. On another matter, police completed investigations into SMS rumours about racial riots in the state. “We have handed over the papers to the Attorney-General,” he said. Five people were arrested under the Internal Security Act in connection with the case, but have since been released.
NIBONG TEBAL — Residents in several villages and housing estates in Seberang Perai Tengah (SPT) and Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS) lost several million ringgit worth of property, livestock and plants in the flood recently. Many of them, especially those living in Kampung Manggis in SPT and Kampung Baru, Tanjung Ketupat in Simpang Ampat and Kampung Lapan and Taman Indera Timbalan in Kepala Gajah, SPS, experienced floods three times in recent months. Batu Kawan Member of Parliament Huan Cheng Guan said the residents complained that they lost considerable property, especially livestock and plants in the floods. Speaking to reporters after inspecting the collapsed embankment at Kepala Gajah due to the recent flood, he said several hectares under rubber, oil palm and pineapple were destroyed while freshwater fish and prawns rearers lost their harvests. He estimated the losses at more than RM2 million. Rubber and oil palm smallholder Jariah Awang, 65, lamented that the the floods had robbed her of an income. “I used to earn about RM100 a day from rubber but none now,” she said. Her 3.6-hectare holding is close to the collapsed embankment and since the flooding incident on July 23, 30 of her rubber trees, 30 durian trees and 25 rambutan trees had been destroyed by flood waters. Thousands of factory workers and traders have also been affected by the floods and a survey is being conducted to determine the actual number affected so that aid can be given out to them. Huan said aid had also been requested from the National Disaster Fund through the National Security Council deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 10.7% or 3,207 projects lined up under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) have been completed as of Aug 31, said the Prime Minister. In his written reply to Lim Hock Seng (DAP – Bagan) in Parliament, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said a total of 29,947 projects had been approved thus far under the 9MP. He said 28.3% of the figure or 8,467 projects were currently being implemented at various stages. The remaining 61% or 18,273 projects were yet to be implemented including projects in the planning stage such as identification of locations, design and project summary, he added. “The implementation of the 9MP development projects is monitored through the Project II Monitoring System (SPP II),” he said. Abdullah said the list of projects according to the state, district, parliament constituency or state assembly could be obtained from the Federal Development Department or the State Development office based on the specific needs.
KUALA LUMPUR: Police have crippled a motorcycle-and-snatch-theft gang with the arrest of 10 of its members over the weekend. They believe at least 13 cases of motorcycle and snatch thefts in Sentul have been solved with the arrest. Police got their break when they arrested a 21-year-old at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa on Friday. Sentul police chief Assistant Commissioner K. Kumaran said nine men, aged between 18 and 29, were arrested at a rented house in Seksyen 27, Shah Alam on Saturday morning in a follow-up operation. At the house, police found four motorcycles believed to be stolen, motorcycle parts and tools used for robbery. Kumaran said investigations showed the group had been active in the Klang Valley for the past two months. The stolen motorcycles were cannibalised for parts and sold to unsuspecting customers. Kumaran said the gang members would pose as policemen when robbing their victims. He said police has launched a manhunt for the gang’s leader and other members of the gang.
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has been declared free from bird flu after passing the requisite three-month period without any new outbreak since the last epidemic began in June. Veterinary authorities have spent the last three months conducting surveillance on fowl in and around Kampung Paya Jaras Hilir in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, where there was an outbreak on June 5. A total of 4,266 free-range chickens, ducks and other fowl were culled within five days from the outbreak, costing the government nearly RM40,000 in compensation to their owners. Coops were destroyed and premises within the infected zone were disinfected. Two rounds of surveillance were conducted up to a 10km radius from the infection zone, during which swab samples were taken from more birds. Over the three months, 24,246 swab samples were taken from various fowl within the affected area and also nationwide to check if the H5N1 virus had spread. Test results for the virus have been negative. “We are now free of avian influenza as we have successfully conducted the stamping-out policy to ensure there is no spread of the virus, and have followed all measures in accordance with guidelines by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),” Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday. Also present at the press conference was Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin. The ministry’s final report to the OIE was submitted on Sunday, in which it was confirmed to the world body that Malaysia was free of the virus. Muhyiddin added that the OIE and the World Health Organisation had praised Malaysia for its handling of the bird flu outbreaks. He hoped that with the declaration, countries which had stopped importing poultry from Malaysia would resume their imports. Muhyiddin lamented that state governments were slow in gazetting state enactments on rearing of free-range chickens. The ministry had given each state a draft legislation on this matter for their adoption, but to date none had enforced the rules, which carry penalties for rearing chickens in urban areas and for allowing chickens to roam free. “Perhaps the states do not see this as important but we can’t afford to have a lackadaisical attitude,” he said. Malaysia has successfully fought three avian flu outbreaks since 2004, spending RM10 million in compensation for culled birds. Muhyiddin also said that Malaysia must continue to be vigilant as avian flu was still prevalent in several neighbouring countries. All Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, and now Malaysia, still had bird flu. Poorer Asean members lacked the resources to conduct comprehensive stamping-out programmes which involved culling of fowl, compensation for breeders and owners, and surveillance checks.
PUTRAJAYA: Commercial vehicle drivers will be tested for drugs under a medical check-up scheme when they renew or apply for new licences. The new scheme, which will come into effect on Oct 1, will also see them being checked for other problems like alcoholism, drug addiction and cardiovascular and mental illnesses. The move by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) is expected to affect more than 500,000 public service vehicle (PSV) licence, goods driving licence (GDL) and conductor licence (KON) holders. JPJ deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan said the scheme, called eKesihatan, aims to ensure that only medically-fit drivers are behind the wheel of commercial vehicles. “The medical test that they have to go through is very comprehensive and from Oct 1, all drivers will be subjected to urine tests for drug abuse,” he told a press conference at the department headquarters here yesterday. He said that under the scheme, the results would be electronically transmitted to JPJ via a government-appointed gateway provider, Supremme System Sdn Bhd, while payments and registration for the tests would have to be done at post offices before a driver proceeded to the appointed panel clinic. “It ensures that the verification of the health status of the licence holders is not only based on the report of the medical practitioner but also on the report of a laboratory test by a third party. “This will create a situation which is fair, and with checks and balance,” he said. Supremme System would also be maintaining an up-to-date database of the health status of all commercial vehicle licence holders for the department. Solah said 611 panel clinics nationwide had been appointed under the new programme. Those applying or renewing their goods driving, passenger service vehicle and conductors licences have to pay RM80 for the test. Previously they paid RM50 for new applications and RM10 for renewals. Asked about the increase, Solah said the tests were more comprehensive and even those who wanted to renew their vocational licences had to undergo the same type of medical tests. “The new medical screening will also test for designer drug abuse by drivers and conductors,” he said. He said the Cabinet had approved the implementation of eKesihatan to improve the delivery system and protect the integrity of the screening process. Supremme executive director Datuk Kamaludin Yusoff, who was also present at the press conference, said those who failed the tests could reapply using the same process if they felt that their health condition had improved.
KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara, together with financial services industry players, has initiated a programme to address the shortage of skilled talents in the industry. The one-year Financial Sector Talent Enrichment Programme (FSTEP), which commences in November, was expected to produce 1,000 highly trained industry professionals, said governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz. The shortage of talent in the financial services industry is not unique to Malaysia as other countries are also facing the same problem. “The areas (of shortage) are extensive ranging from entry level, those with five to seven years of experience to senior management,” Zeti said at a briefing yesterday. Bank Negara deputy governor Datuk Mohd Razif Abdul Kadir (left) and governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz (second from left) briefing reporters on the Financial Sector Talent Enrichment Programme in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. FSTEP aims to attract high calibre graduates from local and foreign institutions of higher learning to join the financial services industry – banks, insurance, Islamic banks and takaful. “Graduates in related business disciplines or other non-business disciplines are encouraged to apply. The programme is also open to those who are currently working in the non-financial sector and interested to pursue careers in the financial services industry,” Zeti added. Supported by the financial services industry through the Industry Staff Training Fund, which currently has about RM110mil, FSTEP provides a one-year intensive technical training in banking and insurance, including Islamic finance and takaful. Its orientation will focus on practical and operational aspects of the industry. Training also includes simulations, workshops, case studies and on-the-job training through internships with the financial institutions. Zeti said participants would receive a scholarship of RM2,200 per month as well as basic medical and insurance coverage. “Those who successfully complete the programme will be absorbed into the financial services sector,” she said, adding that the programme would be reviewed to determine its success. On the effect of the weak export numbers in July and the US subprime mortgage problems on the country’s economy, Zeti felt it was premature to make a conclusive assessment on the extent of the spillover of the developments in the US. “It remains to be seen what kind of policy or response needs to be taken to address it. Until then, we need to monitor very closely all the developments in the US and other parts of the world. “I want to emphasise that compared with previously, the impact will be less pronounced because we are a more diversified economy and more importantly, we have a stronger domestic economy,” she added.
BANK Negara Malaysia is spearheading a specialised financial training programme, which it hopes will address the acute shortage of skilled talent in the financial industry. Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz hopes the one-year Financial Sector Talent Enrichment Programme (FSTEP) will be able to produce 1,000 highly trained industry professionals by November next year. “It is a practical-oriented programme aimed at attracting high-calibre students who have recently graduated from local and foreign institutions to join the financial industry – banks, insurance, Islamic banks and takaful,” she said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. The programme, which will begin next month, is being organised with the various players in the industry. They are the Association of Banks in Malaysia, Malaysian Investment Banks Association, Association of Islamic Banking Institutions Malaysia, Life Insurance Association of Malaysia, General Insurance Association of Malaysia, Malaysian Takaful Association, Institute of Bankers Malaysia, Islamic Banking and Finance Institute Malaysia and the Malaysian Insurance Institute. It is also open to those currently working outside the financial sector but are interested to pursue careers in the financial industry. Funded by the financial services industry, this programme provides intensive technical training and the training module includes simulations, workshops and case studies as well as on-the-job training through internships. Participants, who will receive an RM2,200 per month scholarship with basic medical and insurance coverage, will be absorbed into the sector. Zeti said the programme will also source funding from the RM110 million Financial Staff Training Fund, set up by the banking sector to address staff-pinching. Some of the resource persons providing training may be sourced from overseas and outside the financial services industry, she added. Zeti said the next round of training will be aimed at those with five to seven years’ experience to ensure high-calibre officers with strong levels of talent. The central bank also wants to ensure salary increases in the industry commensurate with the capacity and calibre of the individual concerned. More information on the programme can be obtained from the central bank’s website at www.bnm.gov.my.
KUALA LUMPUR — General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) hopes that a separate tax relief on contributions to Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) be allowed for insurance premiums paid, particularly for personal insurance protection such as life, education and medical and health policies. In a statement here today, PIAM expected its wish list for Budget 2008 would further encourage the take-up of these types of policies which would benefit the people in the long run. PIAM said its other wish list was for a further refinement of issues relating to National Automotive Policy. “The implementation will help rationalise and consolidate the motor vehicle sector, while enhancing the vehicle sales volume over longer term. “This will in turn fuel growth in all sectors of the motor trade including the motor insurance sector,” it said. On the proposed implementation of the goods and services tax, PIAM hoped that ample time be given to all sectors to prepare to cope with the new taxation system, while making adjustments to current income tax rates in the coming budget. PIAM expected the general insurance industry to record steady growth in 2008 in tandem with the favourable 5.7 percent gross domestic product growth in the second quarter of 2007, the anticipated strengthening in private consumption and investment spending, plus projects implementation under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
KUALA LUMPUR: They would tail the targeted car before rear-ending it, hijacking the car by forcing the victim at parang point. The ruthless men would also ambush victims opening their house gates before robbing them and making off with their cars. However, the crime spree of the 11 members of the notorious “Saravanan” gang were brought to an end recently when they were arrested by the city police. City CID chief SAC II Ku Chin Wah said that with the arrests, police were confident they had solved about 25 cases of car hijacking in the city, Selangor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Johor. “All the suspects, aged between 22 and 40 years, were picked up in several places in Selangor and Johor from Aug 12. “One of the earliest arrests was of the 33-year-old mastermind, who was arrested at his house in Damansara on Aug 12,” he said here yesterday. The mastermind was wanted for three vehicle theft cases in Malacca, Perak and Negri Sembilan. Several members of the gang were also believed to have been involved in a case in Johor early this year where a woman was raped after her car was hijacked. Police seized 36 cars including BMW, Toyota Avanza, Harrier, Honda CRV and Accord, as well as local cars like the Proton Wira, Waja and Perdana from the suspects. Also seized were a lorry and a motorcycle. Their total value is estimated at RM1 million. Police also recovered several sets of keys, parang, hammers, ski masks and gloves from the suspects. Ku said after the cars were stolen, they were taken to a workshop in Johor to be repainted and have their chassis and engine numbers changed. The owner of the workshop was also among the men detained. “We have identified two more gangs which had links with the Saravanan gang and are closing in on them,” said Ku. Initial investigations revealed that some of the stolen cars had been resold to unsuspecting customers and police were trying to track them down.
KUALA LUMPUR: Consumer groups and lawyers are at loggerheads over the attorney-general’s proposal for a no-fault liability scheme for motor vehicle accidents. Consumerists were delighted with Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail’s proposal, as reported in yesterday’s NST, saying the move would benefit the people. National Consumer Complaints Centre director Darshan Singh said the government should implement it as soon as possible. “With the current system, it takes years for accident victims to be compensated and when they finally are, there will be heavy contingency fees charged by lawyers on top of the percentage of the award,” he said. “People are being shortchanged by lawyers and this scheme will put an end to that.” Darshan said insurance companies would also benefit as lawyers’ fees would no longer be a consideration since the scheme provided for minimal legal representation. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, an advocate of the scheme, called for a body or mechanism to be put in place to make sure there was no abuse. “The A-G’s Chambers must introduce a regulatory body to look into fraudulent claims and to determine what would be a fair amount to be given in compensation.” Lawyers claim that it would rob them of their livelihood. Bar Council Malaysia president Ambiga Sreenevasan said she would understand if lawyers were unhappy because a large number of them would be put out of work. She urged the A-G’s Chambers to consult with them before implementing the scheme, saying there were questions about the scheme, such as capping the kind and size of claims. “If implemented wrongly, the scheme could indirectly contribute to drivers being less careful as the potential for liability is taken away.” Jagdiv Singh Sandu, a lawyer for 35 years, did not think the no-fault liability scheme would work. He claimed that it would take nearly a year for a comprehensive medical report to detect long-term damage to a person in an accident, thereby making it impossible to award damages immediately. He said the Subordinate Court Rules Act 1955 provided for interim payment, but was hardly used by judges. “Instead of the scheme, there should just be a modification of rules and procedures for accident cases. “Now, defence lawyers use the rules of evidence to create delays and to force claimants to accept much less than what is due.”
THE No-Fault system is a safety net that catches all persons who are injured in an accident, regardless of their guilt or innocence. Whether a person contributed the least to the accident, or was the main cause, that person would be awarded damages that go towards paying medical and hospital fees, repairing the vehicle, making up for lost income, or, in the instance of death, to pay for funeral costs and the welfare of loved ones left behind. In this system, no person is abandoned by society. However, in the fault-based system that is practised in Malaysia today, it is only the “innocent” injured person who gets compensation. This is because innocent victims are covered by third-party insurance from which the victim is entitled to compensation. The “not so innocent” person — the one responsible for causing the accident — does not get anything, even though he, too, might have been injured in the accident. Unless that person has personal accident insurance, the “guilty” person has no safety net. If the guilty party is the breadwinner and dies without insurance, his dependants have lost their source of financial stability as well. However, even though under the current system things seem weighted towards the innocent party, it is not so easy to claim compensation. The “victim” has to go to court and prove several things first before he can be awarded damages: * his innocence — that he did not contribute to the accident, * the guilt of the other party, and, * that the guilty party was negligent in his conduct and did not exercise reasonable care. But the road from the accident to the awarding of damages can be extremely long and tedious. If the accident was serious, the case becomes a criminal matter. The driver of the offending vehicle would be advised by his lawyer to plead not guilty. The case, thus, goes to court. Criminal trials can take several years. The innocent party must wait because the result of the criminal trial will determine the bargaining power of each side. The innocent party will then hire a lawyer to take a civil suit against the guilty party. The lawyer for the innocent man and the lawyer for the guilty man exchange many letters. A doctor spends time looking at the injuries to ascertain the damage, and to determine what is needed to “repair” the injury. Both parties wait a few years before their case can be heard in court. The judge then decides and makes an award. Often, the damages awarded is less than what was demanded. If either party is not happy with the decision or the award, the matter is appealed. And this then adds a few more years to the matter. By the time the “victim” finally gets his compensation, it is many many years later and a large percentage will go towards paying the lawyer. In the meantime, the injured person still has to pay his hospital bills. And, if he was unable to work as a result of his injury, he has no income and is unable to support himself or his family. In our current fault-based system, compensation will not be given to the victim if he cannot prove that the injury was caused by the defendant’s failure to take reasonable care. And negligence must be “reasonably foreseeable”. As this is often so difficult to prove, at the end of the day, the majority of motor vehicle accident victims receive no compensation at all. And they have no other net to fall back on.
PUTRAJAYA: People who are injured in road accidents may no longer have to worry about how to pay for their medical treatment. This is because the Attorney-General wants to introduce a no-fault payment scheme for those involved in motor-vehicle accidents. Under the proposed scheme, injured persons can expect prompt benefits, regardless of who caused the accident, without having to go to court. Initial minimum payments, which will assist the injured person in the immediate aftermath of the accident, could be paid within a week of the claim being filed. All a victim has to do is to submit two reports, a police accident report and a medical report, to receive compensation. Although the source of the funding has yet to be determined, Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said it is likely to come from motor vehicle insurance companies — from premiums paid by vehicle owners. “The objective of this new scheme is to reduce the burden on the people,” Gani said. Instead of paying for third-party insurance (which only covers the person you knock down), vehicle owners are expected to get comprehensive insurance (which covers everyone, including the vehicle owner). The scheme will apply to any accident in Malaysia involving motor vehicles registered in Malaysia. “Many people come up to me to tell me that they are not obtaining justice fast enough,” said Gani. “A few years ago, an old man told me that it took him several years to get his claim in court. At the end of the day, he got only a fraction of what he was entitled to. “What was of most concern to me was that he didn’t get the compensation at the time when he needed it the most — at the time of recovery, soon after the accident.” Currently, under the fault-based system, a person has to wade through years of legal administration before he is awarded compensation. In the fault-based system, if no fault can be established, then an innocent accident victim would be without remedy. The prompt payment of benefits is expected to a “fair and expeditious relief” to the injured person during the period of incapacity, so that he may maintain a reasonable standard of living. Benefits will include property damage, pain and suffering for injuries sustained, medical expenses, loss of earnings and, in the instance of death, funeral expenses and compensation for dependants. However, the scheme will not be applicable to accidents caused by uninsured vehicles, or people who are “repugnant to justice”, such as a driver driving under the influence of alcohol, or criminals who get injured while trying to escape from the law. The scheme will do away with the fault-based liability system currently in force, removing the option for civil action. This will be enforced by legislation. If there is any dissatisfaction as to the quantum, the party cannot go to court, but instead has to go through mediation. “The quantum will probably be less than what you would get at the courts, but if you factor in what it would cost to have to go to court, pay the lawyer, wait several years, this way is more beneficial to the injured party in the end,” said Gani. Insurance premiums are also expected to go down since insurance companies would not need to spend money on legal or administrative fees in going to court because there is no need to prove fault. “The No-Fault Liability (NFL) scheme will alleviate a lot of the backlog of cases in the courts, because it will free them to attend to other matters,” said Gani. As at July 1, last year, there were 11,890 insurance claims pending in the magistrate’s courts, 621 in the High Courts, and 37,248 in the Sessions Courts. Compensation claims from road accidents ranked the second highest among the total number of civil cases filed. Gani said preparatory work on the new scheme started early last year and is now moving to the meeting stage with all stakeholders. “We have to consider what the impact will be on the public, insurance companies, and lawyers. “We won’t know how this will impact insurance companies until we hear their views.” Discussions will also focus on which body will administer the scheme. The A-G’s Chambers is also finalising a Preliminary Issues Paper and questionnaire that will be opened to the public to take into account the public’s comments. The paper is expected to be posted soon on the A-G Chambers website, www.agc.gov.my. Gani is hoping to set up the scheme as soon as possible. “If it is a good thing, and everyone supports it, then why wait?” The NFL scheme is currently being practised in various versions in New Zealand, the US and certain parts of Australia, Canada and India.
KUALA LUMPUR — Vehicle sales rose by 2.6 percent or 1,143 units in July 2007 compared to the previous month with improved consumers’ confidence and market sentiments. The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), in releasing the figures today, said higher disposable income lifted by the 7.5 to 35 percent salary increase for civil servants and new model introductions also contributed to improved sales. According to the association, sales volume in August 2007 is expected to be maintained at the same level as July 2007. Vehicle sales increased 9.6 percent to 44,926 units in July 2007 compared with 40,990 units in the same month last year, MAA said in its report. Year-to-date, vehicle sales went down by 9.1 percent to 265,665 units from 292,330 units previously, the association said. In July 2007, total industry production rose to 40,149 units from 39,535 units in the same period last year, MAA said. Of these, passenger cars accounted for 36,308 units while 3,841 units were commercial vehicles, it added. Total production in the first seven months of this year was 22 percent lower at 247,975 units as against 318,179 units in the same period last year, the association said. Of the number, passenger cars comprised 225,644 units and the remaining 22,331 units were commercial vehicles.
BUKIT KAYU HITAM — Thai Customs today handed over five stolen vehicles which were smuggled into the country to the Malaysian government as proof of cooperation between the two countries. The handing-over was held at the Thai Customs office in Dannok, close to the Malaysia-Thai border. Malaysia’s consul-general in Songkhla Raslan Abdul Rashid, who received the vehicles on behalf of the Malaysian government, then handed them over to Kedah CID chief ACP Ismail Yatim. The vehicles comprise two Toyota Innova cars, a Toyota Harrier, a Honda CRV and a Nissan Frontier. Ismail said the vehicles would be kept at the Bukit Kayu Hitam police station pending completion of investigations. “The handing-over of these vehicles is a follow-up to the ministerial level joint committee meeting in Bangkok on July 28,” he added. He said the vehicles, shipped from Singapore, were impounded by Thai Customs in Thailand on suspicion that they were stolen in Malaysia and then smuggled into Thailand.
MELAKA — Police have crippled a syndicate which specialises in stealing old cars and vans and later selling them off cheaply in Melaka, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan and Terengganu. Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said nine men, including two ring leaders calling themselves “Hogan”, aged 30 and 58 respectively, were nabbed by police in connection with the case. “Close cooperation between Bukit Aman (Federal police) and with our contingents in Melaka, Terengganu, Kelantan and Negeri Sembilan as well as other departments helped us cripple this syndicate. Investigations are continuing,” he told a press conference at the Melaka Police headquarters here Friday. He said that 45 buyers of the vehicles had also been arrested, of which 13 were from Melaka, 29 from Terengganu and three from Negeri Sembilan while 35 cars and 24 vans worth about RM250,000 were confiscated. Police also seized 31 genuine vehicle registration numbers and 18 road tax stickers, 13 of which were genuine and the rest fake. Wan said the chasis numbers of the stolen vehicles were tampered with at a workshop in Sungai Baru, Alor Gajah here, after which the vehicles were sold cheaply between RM3,000 and RM5,000. “The vehicles were sold to villagers in remote areas and Felda schemes. The 58-year-old syndicate leader had previous records for robbery and extortion,” he said. Wan advised the public to be wary when offered vehicles at very low prices as they could be stolen.
PUTRAJAYA: The law will be amended to require all commercial vehicles to have underrun bars at their rear ends. Had these bars been fixed on the lorry in Tuesday’s accident when an MPV was crushed underneath it, the fate of 11 people who were killed might have been different. The underrun bars would have prevented the MPV from going underneath the lorry. Amendments to the Construction and Use Rules 1959, a set of regulations under the Road Transport Act, are being finalised to require all commercial vehicles to install these bars. Road Transport Department deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan said currently, only new commercial vehicles must have the bars. “Since last year, we have imposed this requirement on new commercial vehicles when they send their vehicle plans to us for approval,” he told the New Straits Times. “In the meantime, we began drafting amendments to the rules to make it compulsory for older vehicles as well.” Besides underrun bars, commercial vehicles must also have other safety features including night reflectors. Solah said most commercial vehicles were registered before last year and, therefore were not required to install underrun bars. Puspakom will be the enforcing agency for the new requirement. Commercial vehicles are required by law to undergo inspections at Puspakom every six months. “For now, we encourage commercial vehicle owners to be proactive. Don’t wait for the amendments to be approved as this involves public safety,” Solah said. In the accident on Tuesday, 11 people died when their MPV crashed into the back of a lorry carrying iron ore on the East Coast Highway. The MPV was a seven-seater but it was carrying 15. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy had said the government would consider laws to limit the number of passengers in private vehicles.
KLANG: Police recovered 23 stolen vehicles worth RM2.3 million and arrested three members of a car-theft ring with the help of Captor, a car security company, on Wednesday. Using a helicopter and its radio frequency tracking system, the company detected and tailed a stolen Toyota Fortuner SUV to a warehouse in Jalan Haji Sirat before alerting police. A police team raided the warehouse where they found the Toyota Fortuner and 22 vehicles that were being cleaned and prepared for “export”. They arrested two men and a woman, aged between 20 and 38. District police chief ACP Mohd Rodwan Yusof said the suspects were members of a known car-theft ring, which had been crippled in February. “We believe these cars were destined for Batam or Dubai in the United Arab Emirates,” he said. The vehicles recovered were 14 Toyota Hilux, three Toyota Fortuner, a Toyota Camry, a Toyota Innova, a Nissan X-trail, a Proton Waja, a Proton Putra and a dismantled Mitsubishi Evolution. Rodwan said police were now looking for three other members of the ring, including the mastermind, who is believed to be outside the country. He said the ring had been renting the warehouse for a month on the pretext of storing textiles. The suspects have been remanded until July 31. A Captor Retail spokesman said the owner of the Toyota Fortuner alerted the Captor Command Centre at 6.30am on Wednesday. He last saw the vehicle in his compound the previous night. “We immediately activated the vehicle’s tracking system and despatched four recovery teams and a helicopter to track the car.” The helicopter spotted the Fortuner at 2pm in Bandar Utama and the company used its system to immobilise the vehicle at 2.30pm when it was near Jaya Jusco in Bukit Raja, Klang. However, the thieves by-passed the security system shortly after and continued to drive it to the warehouse. Police raided the warehouse at 3.30pm.
KLANG: Thanks to a vehicle tracking and recovery system fixed to a Toyota Fortuner, police busted a syndicate that stole 4WD vehicles and exported them. Klang police chief Asst Comm Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof said that 23 vehicles, estimated at about RM2.3mil, were also recovered when a police team raided a warehouse in Jalan Haji Sirat near here. Two men and a woman were arrested. The raid came after the Toyota Fortuner was tracked thanks to the Captor Vehicle Tracking and Recovery System, which was affixed to the vehicle. The vehicle was stolen on Wednesday and the tracking system was immediately activated. Four ground recovery teams and a helicopter unit were deployed and managed to track it right up to the warehouse. Police found vehicles stolen from places such as Mentakab, Port Dickson, Rawang, Alor Star and Klang. They included Toyota Hilux, Toyota Fortuner, Toyota Innova, Toyota Camry and Nissan X-trail. They also seized a Proton Waja, a Proton Putra, and a dismantled Mitsubishi Evolution at the scene of the crime. However, the man who police believe was the mastermind behind the syndicate was still at large, said ACP Mohd Rodwan. “The vehicles were shipped out through Port Klang to Batam and Dubai,” said ACP Mohd Rodwan. He said they would steal 4WD vehicles and spruce them up to look new before shipping them out. ACP Mohd Rodwan said that the vehicles were in great demand in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Dubai and Batam.
KLANG — Police recovered 23 stolen cars and four-wheel-drive vehicles worth RM2.1 million bound for overseas from a godown at Km4 Jalan Hj Sirat, Meru here in a raid on Tuesday. Klang District Police Chief ACP Mohamad Rodwan Md Yusof said police arrested two men aged 27 and 38 and a 20-year-old woman to assist in the investigation. The vehicles seized were 14 Toyota Hilux, three Toyota Fortuner, a Nissan X-Trail, a Toyota Innova, a Proton Putra, a Proton Waja, a Toyota Camry and a Mitsubishi Evolution 7 which had been stripped of its engine. Following a tip off, a police squad under an operation codenamed “Ops Lejang” trailed a stolen car to the warehouse before raiding it at 3.30 pm, he told reporters at the godown in Meru near here today. He said the vehicles which were stolen in Kedah, Penang, Perak, Pahang, Kelantan, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Negeri Sembilan were brought to the godown where their chassis numbers were tampered with while their registration numbers replaced. “The vehicles are meant to be smuggled overseas to places such as Batam (Indonesia) and Jabal Ali in Dubai,” he said. Police said the thieves who had been carrying out their operation for the past one month rented the godown for RM4,000 a month on the pretext of running a textile enterprise. Rodwan said police were looking for the ring leader who was believed to be overseas and two more men including the one who had rented the godown on suspicion of being involved in the operation. The three suspects are remanded until next Tuesday and the case is investigated under Section 413 of the Penal
SHAH ALAM — A study conducted overseas showed that using mobile phones while driving increases the risk of road accident by 300 times. “This applies even if the driver uses a hands-free kit,” said Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh at the Malaysia/Singapore Scania Drivers 2007 competition here today. The study was made in Sweden last year while the result of another study in Australia was made public a few weeks ago. Although no such study had been conducted here, Malaysia could use the result of studies in the two countries. Singh said sending of short messages (text messaging) while driving was extremely dangerous because it only need two seconds of distraction for an accident to happen. The department and the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research would carry out a study on the use of mobile phones while driving. On accidents involving heavy vehicles, he said an average of 200 lorry drivers and attendants die annually and the figure would increase to 800 annually year if the death of third parties were counted.
PETALING JAYA — Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) hopes the government will include other models under the proposed car-scrapping policy. Its president, Datuk Aishah Ahmad, said by including other models, it would benefit the motor vehicle industry as a whole. “We always support car-scrapping. What we would want the government to do is to include other models and not confine to Proton vehicles only. “Most countries have end-of-life policy for all motor vehicles,” she told reporters at the MAA market review for the first half 2007 here today. Recently, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the government was still studying the possibility of scrapping cars that are 15 years and above and there has been no definite proposal as yet. The car-scrapping policy was proposed by second-hand car dealers and Proton in an effort to get old cars off the roads and thus boost sales. Asked on the greatest factor which would affect the domestic car industry moving forward, Aishah said: “I believe that as far as the industry is highly regulated whatever government policy changes will affect Malaysian car industry.” MAA announced that the total motor vehicles sales for the fist half of this year dropped 12 percent to 220,739 units from 251,340 in the same period last year.
PETALING JAYA — Total vehicle sales dropped 12 per cent to 220,739 units in the first half of this year from 251,340 in the same period last year. Passenger car sales also declined 12 per cent to 200,454 units from 228,323, Datuk Aishah Ahmad, the President of the Malaysian Automotive Association announced here Wednesday. Aishah told a press conference that this was due to buyers facing difficulties in getting higher purchase loans, shorter repayment period as well as low used car values. Sales of commercial vechices dropped 12 per cent to 20,285 from 23,017. However, a notable feature amid the downtrend during the period was that June vehicle sales rose to 43,783 units from 42,211 in June 2006. June sales were also substantially higher by 14.2 per cent or 5,456 units than May due to the delivery of the new model VIVA by Perodua. Aggressive campaigns by motor vehicles distributors particularly Proton also lent a helping hand, she said. The sales volume for July was expected to continue the uptrend recorded in June, she said. For the first six months this year, Perodua topped car firms in sales with 75,483 units sold from 79,738 before while Proton came in second with sales of 46,955 units from 60,291. During the period, Perodua’s share in the car market increased to 34.2 per cent compared with 31.7 per cent while Proton’s share dropped to 21.3 per cent in the first half against 24 per cent in 2006. Toyota was number one in the non-national car segment with 36,567 units sold in this year’s first half versus 42,002 units before, but its market dropped slightly to 16.6 per cent from 16.7 per cent. Honda came in second with 14,175 units sold from 13,323 with a 6.4 per cent market share, followed by Naza and Nissan closely. Production during the review period fell 25 per cent to 207,826 units. MAA said that the performance for the second half is expected to be better than the first half, with total motor vehicle sales to be 8.4 per cent higher. Aishah, who also represents Ford Malaysia Sdn Bhd on the MAA board of council members said, the expected higher sales was based on new model launches, the recent salary hike for civil servants and bouyant stock market. “Sales for June have seen the increase,” she said. On the outlook for this year, Aishah said MAA has revised total motor sales forecast downwards for the whole of this year by six per cent to 460,000 from 490,768 last year. MAA said the forecasts were based on expectations that new car models will stimulate sales driven by a higher disposal income following a pay raise for civil servants and the relatively bouyant stock market.
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Termuzi Abdul Aziz, the father of the pilot who was killed in the Nuri helicopter crash in Genting Sempah on July 13, was presented with an insurance proceeds cheque from AmBank on Tuesday. The undisclosed amount would immediately offset the outstanding amount of a BMW car, which Capt Nor Azlan Termuzi purchased two years ago. The remaining balance would provide relief for the family. AmBank (M) Berhad managing director (retail banking) Mohamed Azmi Mahmood delivered the cheque at Termuzi’s residence in Kota Damansara. Also present was AmAssurance Berhad chief executive officer Ng Lian Lu, who said upon discovery of the event, the claims department took swift initiative of processing and issuing the claim cheque even before any claims were submitted by the deceased’s beneficiaries. “This was to expedite the processing of the claims and ease any financial hardship that the deceased’s family would face,” he said. “It is my fate that I lost my wife two years ago and now my son. “I did not know that my son had taken an insurance policy or else I would have considered selling off the car as the monthly payment of about RM2,000 was too expensive,” said Termuzi, who returned to work on Tuesday.