Deadly bus crash further damages the national image and its tourism

By J.D. Lovrenciear

The recent deadly bus crash in Perak that robbed the lives of 25 foreign nationals will certainly scar the nation’s tourism industry. No matter what the findings may prove to be, Malaysia’s infamous rating for road safety will further earn the world’s acknowledgment of a national failure.

For many years many citizens and travellers have repeatedly voiced in the local dailies and on-line media of their concerns over the bad driving habits and dangerous road conditons in Malaysia. Meanwhile many campaigns have been launched by the government purportedly to address road safety.
And now this uncalled for deadly bus crash that robbed loved ones of their parents, brothers, sisters and relatives further attests that road safety on Malaysian roads deserves more serious attention from the Malaysian government.
Experts have repeatedly warned that accidents on the road happen because of two wrongs, namely unsafe conditions and unsafe acts. Unless and until the government is serious about addressing the unsafe conditions of vehicles and road conditions as well as the bad attitudes and mindsets of drivers and enforcement authorities, we can only expect to continue to witness more deadly road accidents on Malaysian soil.
The government needs to address effectively several perspectives like:
Why do vehicle owners and operators not ensure that their vehicles are serviced periodically and replaced with genuine parts? Why is the sales of imitation spare parts so rampant still in the country?
Why do drivers of public vehicles not be made to subscribe to a maximum number of hours they can put in behind the wheels in 24 hours like how they do in France? Why do we still witness public and transport vehicle drivers taking all kinds of ‘energizer’ drinks and burning kilometers and hours behind wheels to make a break-even on their take home wages?
Why is it that despite numerous police operations on the Malaysian roads, we still witness careless and carefree drivers all cross the nation? Breaking the law is a daily saga on Malaysian roads which explains the numerous police operations and accident rates.
Why do we still hear of dangerous strectches on the many spanking highways in the country? Shouldn’t modern highways be totally free of dangerous spots especially when millions of Ringgit have been spent to build such mortorways?
And in this latest tragedy, why in the first place did a double-decker bus be allowed on the road if the authorities state that such vehicles are not suited for Malaysian roads?
The government certainly owes everyone — citizens and famalies of their foreign guests who perished, a clear explanation on the tragedy. And not just an expalanation but also if there is an admition of fault then say so without the traditional delays.
A government is always responsible for all road users especially so when it collects taxes and tolls from its users to provide good roads.
Likewise the authorities must learn fast that changing the mindsets of road users cannot be the sole responsibility of road users. The law abiding citizen must be a priority for any responsible government.
Let not anyone forget that Malaysia is well known the world over for poor road safety. As more and more tourists take to road travel globally, the nation will only stand to lose another frontier of economic gain if road safety s not a first priority on the national agenda.