Monday, September 17, 2007

Express buses - who's regulating whom?

Last month I posted Too little, too late, for 22!, commenting on a malaysiakini news article that told us the tragic deaths of 21 passengers on a bus when the driver fell asleep on the wheel and allowed the vehicle to hit a road barrier while on a downhill road. It skidded off the highway, overturned and fell into a ditch.

As if that was not bad enough, we found out that the driver of a bus, 28 year old Rohizan Abu Bakar, had two outstanding arrest warrants for reckless driving, apart from 13 summonses from police.

Yet he continued to drive ... his passengers to their deaths, or shall I put it more correctly, that because the responsible party or parties failed to stop him from driving which it/they should, he was thus allowed to kill those poor passengers.

So I wasn’t surprised when Kurnia Insurans chief executive office Kong Shu Yin said new conditions would apply to (only) express buses because of their very poor safety record lately.

The insurance company has decided to make bus firms partly liable for passenger deaths or injuries, and property damage if their drivers fail to comply with an additional set of conditions such as:

> Full compliance with permit provisions,
> Having Puspakom roadworthiness certificates,
> That drivers are not drug addicts and alcoholics,
> That drivers have valid licences and are free of traffic warrants
> That drivers are physically and mentally fit.

I cannot for the life of me see anything wrong with the conditions which should be rightfully and lawfully subscribed to all the time, for the safety of the passengers, other vehicles as well as pedestrians.

The bus companies must accept responsibility. Having an insurance policy doesn’t mean that they can simply ignore any of the above conditions.

The primary reason should be the safety of the passengers, and if it takes an insurance company to put the stick end to their butt to motivate those bus companies to accept responsibilities, I say bravo.

In the USA, while the FAA regulates flying, the insurance companies are the real force which actually drive air safety. If the airlines or smaller charter air companies or any of their pilots are negligent or not following correct safety procedures, the insurance would be after them in more than one way – increased premiums, refusal to pay out on claims, refusal to extend insurance, etc. And the system works for air safety.

So I say kudos to the insurance company, which insures the bulk of express buses on the road, to require (threaten) bus companies to pay up to RM5,000 for death or injuries, and RM10,000 for property damage claims if those conditions are not fulfilled.

I expect the moans and groans from the bus companies, but was I shocked when I read the bus companies have two sympathetic groaners and moaners as well in the CVLB and Road Safety Department, when these two government organizations should be making sure the bus companies observe those prudent safety conditions (even without the insurance company driving them).

Guess what CVLB chairman Markiman Kobiran said?

The move was unfair because it imposed unnecessary conditions on bus companies. Hey, what about the passengers?

He said enforcement had weeded out most of the unscrupulous drivers and bus companies were very aware that they had to improve safety conditions.


Then Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh said the move would cause hardship to the bus companies. What about the passengers, Singh?

Singh said “It should not be the stick alone. The carrot and stick method should be used. They should be working with the Government and industry to reduce their risk.”

Bull to you too – the carrot obviously didn’t work, Now’s the time to wield the stick before more passengers are murdered.

The CVLB and Road Safety Department are equally responsible for the pathetic state of affairs as evident by the number of express bus accidents. Departmental heads should have rolled with the abysmal safety record of the bus companies, but alas, in BolehLand they are instead allowed to pontificate on useless motherhood statements with no likelihood for bus safety improvements.

Oooh, incidentally, both Markiman Kobiran and Suret Singh are ‘Datuks’.


  1. Markiman Kobiran and Suret Singh, are weak and useless.
    They are unfit to hold such positions, holders of such posts should oversee the well-being and safety of the passengers and not side with the errant bus companies.
    Who is regulating who?

  2. You are right. What is wrong with applying the conditions ?

    In fact 2½ of the five are already part of the existing conditions for bus companies to operate :
    a) full compliance with permit provisions,
    b) having Puspakom roadworthiness certificates, and
    c) that drivers have valid drivers licences.

    Most companies already have a policy on substance abuse, so getting the drivers (and other workers as well) to undergo properly conducted physicals on a periodic basis surely doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

    Regular on-line checks with JPJ and Police will give a picture of the outstanding warrants issue and is also part of the company’s responsibility towards the welfare of their drivers.

    So, En Markiman Kobiran which of the above is an “unnecessary condition” ?

    And Mr. Suret Singh, pray tell where is the stick ?

    Surely Messrs Markiman and Suret, by applying (not imposing) these conditions, Kurnia is just ensuring that Government policies and regulations are adhered to. So where’s the beef ?

  3. whats new? deaths are just numbers and statistics to these people sitting in ivory castles. like the DPM said, ONLY 14 has died in NS service. IN this instance, ONLY 21 has died in this bus accident. Next time, ONLY...
    Well, at least some good came out of it to some selected fellas. Another leeching project by the name of E-Kesihatan has been approved by the Ministry and is set for launch in Oct 2007. Word has it that this 15 year monopoly is going to make the promoters RM0.5 billion richer. Aint that a great outcome after the tragic deaths.

  4. You are never going to get the CVLB to be serious about bus safety.
    Its an entity under the Entrepreneur Development Ministry. Its charter is to promote Bumiputra control of the transport industry. No surprise that it will side with the bus operators.

    Bus Safety ? Not on the radar screen, except for occasional spin when public revulsion gets too hot.

  5. Those two who pontificated are share-holders of some bus companies, no?

  6. Those 2 shits are jungle.they should live in jungle. They dont care about us. Lets boycotted and ask them for their resignation. Their brains are on their butt not in their head. I am so shamed to be Malaysian. Why we have so much of stupid and shit people like them asking us what not to do. This is all because to our Government who appointed them. They also dont care about us nad that is why !!!