Bus company, driver could be blacklisted

PETALING JAYA — Action will be taken against bus companies which fail to comply with traffic rules and regulations, including allowing drivers with unsettled summonses to drive.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this following investigations which revealed the express bus involved in the accident near the Menora Tunnel on Sunday was linked to 63 unpaid summonses for various traffic offences, while the driver had nine.

Liow also said the ministry would not hesitate to blacklist drivers with unpaid summonses or demerit points as “heavier penalty for those who failed to adhere to the law”.

Liow said he hoped the road accident rate nationwide would fall once the Automated Awareness Safety System (AWAS) and the Demerit Point Award System for Traffic Offences (Kejara) took effect.

“We have to implement AWAS and Kejara where enforcement will be done using cameras. There will be no issues of abuse or misappropriation because we are using technology to identify traffic offenders,” he said.
— Bernama

Fewer fatalities during Ops Selamat

BENTONG — A total of 15,524 road accidents were recorded nationwide in the 11 days of Ops Selamat, which began on June 29.

There was an increase of 377 cases, or 2.5 per cent, compared with 15,147 cases during the corresponding period last year.

However, Bukit Aman Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department director Datuk Mahamad Akhir Darus said, the number of fatal accidents was down by 15.8 per cent as compared with last year.

The total number of deaths declined from 266 last year to 229, a drop by 37 or
13.9 per cent.

Selangor recorded the highest number of accidents at 4,064 cases, followed by Johor (2,351), Kuala Lumpur (1,707), Perak (1,298) and Penang (1,146).

Mahamad Akhir said police would continue their enforcement and monitoring until the operations end tomorrow to ensure there was no increase in accidents.

“Although the holiday period is over and many have returned to work, there are still people coming back to the Klang Valley. So, we will not reduce our manpower of 5,800 traffic policemen until the operations end,” he said.

Mahamad Akhir said based on police observation, most motorists had refrained from using the emergency lane, especially on highways.

Without revealing statistics, he said the number of summonses issued for the offences had dropped during the 11 days of operation compared with last year.
— Bernama

Bus and drivers have 72 unpaid 

IPOH — The express bus and driver involved in a 10-car smash-up on the North-South Expressway on Sunday had a pile of unpaid traffic summonses, police revealed yesterday.

Perak Traffic Investigation and Enforcement chief Supt Wan Jamil Wan Chik said the bus had 63 outstanding summonses for various traffic offences.

“The driver himself has nine outstanding summonses for speeding, driving slowly on the right lane and traffic obstruction, among others,” he said.

Police had obtained a four-day remand order against the 51-year-old driver.

The suspect’s colleague, Zakaria Ahmad, told reporters outside the Ipoh magistrate’s court he (Zakaria) was the main driver of the express bus and the suspect was his co-driver.

He claimed his co-driver had tried to prevent a tragedy when he plowed through traffic near the Menora Tunnel.

“I was sleeping when it happened. I woke up when I heard one of the passengers screaming and I saw the bus was in the middle of the road,” he said.

“He was trying to keep the bus away from the side of the road because the bus could have hit more people if he had not done so.”

Zakaria believed the air brakes of the bus had malfunctioned and his co-driver tried to slow the bus by switching to a lower gear
but failed.

He said the co-driver frantically honked to warn other motorists.

“He may have saved us all. If it wasn’t for his quick thinking, things might have been more tragic. I feel he did his best under the circumstances,” he said.

In the incident, the express bus, which had 28 passengers on board, careened out of control and smashed into 10 cars along Km265.8 of the North-South Expressway at 2.45pm. Only one minor injury was reported.

Zakaria said he had driven the bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang on Saturday night.

He said the second driver, believed to be from Johor Baru, had sufficient rest because he only began the return journey to Kuala Lumpur at noon.

He also said the bus had been inspected before the journey and there was nothing wrong with it.

Miros to recreate accident

PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) is sending a team to Km265.8 of the North-South Expressway today to investigate the runaway bus incident.

Miros director-general Prof Wong Shaw Voon cautioned against speculation and said Miros would look into all angles, including the bus and its driver.

“Our objective is not to apportion blame but to identify any gap and potential for improvement to prevent similar crashes from occurring, or mitigate such outcomes in the future,” he told Malay Mail.

Wong said Miros was not an enforcement or legislative agency and its role was limited to sharing its findings with the relevant authorities including the police, the Road Transport Department and the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

“We do the research and present our findings. We do not make decisions on what needs to change as far as policy and procedures go,” he said.

“The angle we are going to look into is the crash itself. We will attempt to reconstruct the sequence of the accident, further aided by the closed-circuit television footage and any physical evidence such as the damaged cars.”

Wong said among the other elements Miros would explore would be environmental factors that might have contributed to the bus losing control.

On Sunday, footage emerged of an express bus on its way to Kuala Lumpur which plowed through traffic near the Menora tunnel near Ipoh.

The bus, operated by Johor based Qistna Sdn Bhd, suffered extensive damage to its front.

SPAD chief executive officer Mohd Azharuddin Mat Sah said in a statement it would take action against the bus operator if it had violated safety rules after Miros concluded its investigation.

“SPAD will not hesitate to take action against the express bus operator involved in the accident. This action can include suspension and revocation of the operator’s licence,” he said.

“Commuter safety remains SPAD’s top priority.”

Flag up at Dataran Merdeka after four days

KUALA LUMPUR — The Jalur Gemilang was finally flying proudly at Dataran Merdeka yesterday evening — four days after a tattered national flag was hastily removed by City Hall.

There was high drama earlier in the day when a red-faced mayor Datuk Seri Mhd Amin Nordin Abdul Aziz deferred the weekly flag-raising ceremony to 5pm after the contractor failed to supply a replacement flag.

But things were set right at the second ceremony when a “temporary” Jalur Gemilang was hoisted.

Mhd Amin said Reez Enterprise, contracted to maintain the flagpole, was in the process of getting a permanent flag.

“We are looking at making future flags out of nylon polyester because it is stronger than the existing twinkle satin,” he said.

The flag was removed on Friday after Facebook user Regu Natesan had reported it to be in tatters, news that went viral on social media.

Malay Mail had frontpaged the unprecendented occurrence on Saturday which saw a shocked reaction from Malaysians and tourists alike dismayed over the missing national flag.

Their frustation mounted when Mhd Nordin had said that the replacement flag would only be hoisted yesterday with many perplexed by the unexplained delay.

Earlier yesterday, Mhd Amin arrived cheerily at about 9am only to scowl when he found that the ceremony had to be postponed by eight hours as the new flag was still being sewn.

“The flag was supposed to be raised at 10am but it won’t be,” he fumed as the eighth tallest flagpole in the world stood without a flag.

Malay Mail Afternoon E-Paper reported yesterday that Mhd Amin had said City Hall may review its contract with Reez Enterprise over the incident.

He had said that he had informed the contractor to make 10 flags in the event of emergencies but they were only able to make two.

“I’m going to review the contractor. This is a specialised job and our workers cannot do it. We may need to have two contractors for this.”

The Jalur Gemilang at Dataran Merdeka weighs 25kg and measures 18.3m by 9.1m.

“We follow a schedule and change it every two months. It could have ripped due to bad weather. Unforeseen circumstances such as strong winds, heavy rainfall and hail storms play a role too.”

City Hall pays the contractor RM6,900 for every flag change which is inclusive of the flag cost, maintenance of the flag-raising motor and manpower.

“The flag itself costs RM8,000 but because we have an agreement with the contractor which includes the other flags, the price is lower,” he had said.

“Not anyone can go up and change, it needs expertise. Three people have to go up to the middle platform, where the controls are.”

He said the flag couldn’t be replaced over the weekend because the winds were too strong.

“It was too risky and as much as we respect the flag, I don’t think people’s lives should be put at risk,” he had said.

“It’s easier to take it down than to raise it.”

When told that the tattered flag and empty flagpole were an embarrassment to the people, Mhd Amin had said people should report such incidents if it recurred and hoped they would be more understanding.

“If they (the people) know a team that can do the job immediately, regardless of the risks and weather condition, let me know. I am willing to pay them. If not, do they have any other suggestions?”

Task force to probe desecration of temples

GEORGE TOWN — Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has formed a task force headed by Penang Deputy Chief Police Officer Datuk A. Thaiveegan to investigate the desecration of four temple in the state over the past two months.

Thaiveegan said he would be meeting his team soon to get to the bottom of the issue which has shaken the Hindu community.

He will also be meeting temple committees and Hindu organisations over the matter.

“I will expedite investigations and submit a full report to the IGP,” Thaiveegan told Malay Mail.

Earlier in the day, State police chief Datuk Abdul Ghafar Rajab said his deputy would concentrate on finding those responsble for the incidents.

“Based on our initial investigations, we believe the suspects do not have any intention of stealing the statues or other assets. It might be related to land acquisition,” he said after witnessing the handing-over of duties to the new Southwest District police chief, Supt Anuar Omar, by Supt Lai Fah Hin in Balik Pulau here.

The first temple desecration occurred in Penanti Estate, Ara Kuda, in Butterworth early last month with a temple in Jalan Tengku Kudin here on Sunday becoming the fourth vandalised.

On July 2, the Dewa Sri Mathuraiveeran temple in Kampung Sungai Nibong Kechil near Bayan Lepas was damaged by unknown individuals.

Three temples are more than 80 years ago while the one in Penanti Estate is more than 100 years old.

The cases are being investigated under Section 295 of the Penal Code for defiling a place of worship with intent to insult a religion.

Deputy Chief Minister 11 P. Ramasamy had raised the question of whether the incidents were Islamic State inspired.


Ramasamy said that the estimated damage to the Kuil Sri Muneeswarer is estimated to be around RM100,000.


May poised to be British PM after rival drops out

LONDON — Theresa May became the sole contender to be Britain’s next prime minister after her only rival pulled out in a dramatic twist as turmoil sweeps the political scene in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Andrea Leadsom, who had come in for heavy criticism after appearing to imply that she was more qualified than May because she had children, said a lengthy leadership race would be “highly undesirable”.

May is “ideally placed to implement Brexit on the best possible terms for the British people”, Leadsom said in a statement announcing her withdrawal from the contest to lead the governing Conservative Party.

On a tumultuous day in British politics, Labour lawmaker Angela Eagle also launched her bid to take over the leadership of the main opposition Labour Party from veteran socialist Jeremy Corbyn.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after failing to persuade Britons to vote to stay in the European Union in a seismic June 23 referendum and his successor was due to be announced on Sept 9.

It was unclear whether May would automatically become the next prime minister or whether Conservative MPs could choose another candidate to stand against May, ensuring a contest still goes ahead.

Interior minister May, 59, who would be Britain’s first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, launched her policy campaign earlier yesterday by promising to lead Britain out of the European Union despite having supported the “Remain” camp ahead of the referendum.

“Brexit means Brexit and we’re going to make a success of it,” May said in televised remarks.

“There will be no attempts to remain inside the EU, there will be no attempts to rejoin it by the back door, no second referendum,” she said.

“I will make sure that we leave the European Union,” said May, who has promised to begin formal talks to leave the EU by the end of the year at the earliest despite pressure from EU leaders to speed up.

The referendum result has plunged the economy into uncertainty and Britain’s two main parties, which have dominated politics for nearly a century, into turmoil.

As she announced her leadership campaign, Eagle said: “These are dark times for Labour and they are dangerous times for our country.”

“Jeremy Corbyn is unable to provide the leadership that this huge task needs. I believe I can,” the former shadow business secretary said, referring to the process of leaving the European Union.

“This vote was a message for millions in our country who felt that no-one had listened to them for a very long time. For many of them, it was a howl of pain.”

Corbyn has widespread support among party members but has lost the confidence of at least three quarters of Labour MPs.

The vast majority of the party’s lawmakers do not believe Corbyn can lead them to a general election victory — with the referendum on Britain’s EU membership proving the last straw.

The leadership contest depends on a decision by Labour’s governing national executive committee as to whether Corbyn needs nominations or gets an automatic place on the ballot.

The party’s rules are ambiguous and Corbyn has threatened legal action if he cannot get an automatic spot.

“It’s contrary to all the rules of natural justice and fairness that the sitting leader should not be on the ballot,” Corbyn loyalist Diane Abbott told BBC radio.

“Angela Eagle is in the strange position of wanting to challenge the leadership but not wanting the leader on the ballot,” the party’s health spokeswoman said.

“Angela Eagle is the Empire Strikes Back candidate. She voted for the Iraq war and more besides,” she added.

More than 1,000 lawyers sent a letter to Cameron yesterday saying they believe there should be legislation in parliament before Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty — which starts a two-year clock ticking on a country’s exit from the bloc — can be triggered by the incoming premier.

They called for an independent body to be established “to receive evidence and report, within a short, fixed timescale, on the benefits, costs and risks of triggering Article 50 to the UK as a whole, and to all of its constituent populations”. — AFP

Bus driver in bizarre 
highway crash arrested

IPOH — The driver of a bus which plowed into at least 10 cars at Km265.8 of the North-South Expressway near the Menora Tunnel yesterday has been arrested.

Perak traffic chief Supt Wan Jamil Wan Chik said police would apply for a remand for the bus driver today.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation into this accident. It could be reckless driving but we will look at all angles including technical problems and the influence of drugs and alcohol,” he said without identifying the driver.

It was learnt that at least two people were injured in the accident at 2.45pm.

Jamil said from their initial investigation, traffic was moving smoothly on the highway when the bus suddenly moved between the two lanes of the expressway.

“It rammed into 10 cars. We are still waiting for further information and we can’t confirm immediately how many people could have been hurt.”

The recording of the incident, which was shared online, appears to have been recorded with a static traffic camera.

It showed the bus coming out of a turn at high speed and ploughing through cars as it moved between them.

The shocking footage was widely shared online.

All jammed up on ‘balik kerja’ rush

KUALA LUMPUR — People returning to the Klang Valley yesterday on the ‘balik kerja’ (back to work) rush after the Aidilfitri break were greeted by long jams.

The traffic congestion started building up from 10am on most major highways.

At about 1.30pm, traffic on the North-South Expressway was congested from Kuala Kangsar to Simpang Pulai, a distance of some 30 kilometres.

A PLUS Malaysia Bhd spokesman also said a contra-flow lane had also been activated from Km289.6 to Km295.6, from Simpang Pulai to Gopeng, to ease
traffic flow.

He said a minor accident occurred at Km53.4 southbound from Simpang Renggam to Sedenak involving five vehicles but there were no casualties.

“The accident involved two cars, two MPVs and a lorry. However, the lanes were not blocked,” he said.

A Malaysian Highway Authority spokesman said traffic on the East Coast Highway 1 was moving slowly from Lancang to the Karak toll plaza and Bentong toll plaza to Bukit Tinggi and worsened in the evening.

At 5pm, traffic flow on the East Coast Highway 1 (LPT 1) before the Gombak Toll Plaza heading to the federal capital was reported to be congested for five kilometres.

“The traffic is also slow moving from Lanchang heading to Karak, Karak Toll to Bentong, and Bentong to Bukit Tinggi,” a Malaysian Highway Authority
spokesman said.

PLUS Malaysia Berhad, in its Twitter account, said several routes along the North-South Expressway were reported to be slow moving from Bertam heading to Sungai Dua, Jawi to Bandar Cassia, Bukit Merah to Bandar Baharu and Kuala Kangsar to the tunnel.

Traffic was also reported slow moving from Bukit Beruntung to Rawang, Tapah to Bidor, Bidor to Sungkai and Slim River.

The traffic was also slow from Jelapang to Simpang Pulai layby, from Gopeng to Simpang Pulai and Gopeng to Tapah.

Workers unsure whether they will get new pay

KUALA LUMPUR — The Minimum Wages Order 2016 came into force on July 1, but checks by Malay Mail showed that while many are pleased with the announcement, they remain uncertain if their salaries would be increased at the end of the month.

“We have yet to be informed of any increase and will have to await for our pay,” Aziah Muhtar, 24, who workers for a kopitiam chain, said.

Aziah, who said she read about the new rates in the news, earns a basic salary of RM900 and an average of RM200 as service charge monthly. After her Employees Provident Fund and Social Security Organisation deductions, her nett salary is about RM950.

Aziah said although she was happy with the increment, she felt it was quite small for some people.

“I am single but for those with families and dependants, it might not be much, especially with the surge in the cost of living,” she said.

A Malaysian employed at a fast-food chain, who only wanted to be known as Shafika, said she would discuss with her employer about the increase.

“I was a part-timer and had just been given a full-time position in mid-June, with RM900 as basic salary and a RM100 attendance allowance,” Shafika, 21, said.

“After I found out about the minimum wage recently, I asked my supervisor and she said I should speak to the boss about it. I will do it soon.”

Maryam, a convenience store attendant earning RM900 a month, said she preferred to wait until pay day on the seventh of next month to find out if her salary had increased.

Melissa, 21, a furniture shop saleswoman, said she had just moved here from Kota Kinabalu last month.

She said although she knew about the minimum wage, she was offered RM800 as basic salary, with a one per cent sales commission.

“I know the minimum wage was RM900 previously and it is now RM1,000. But my colleagues seem to be fine with the pay and I need this job … so I just have to accept it,” she said.

An Ampang Jaya Municipal Council drain cleaner, who wanted to be known only as Saiful, said he was not aware of the increase.

Saiful, an Indonesian national from Java Timur earning RM950 a month, said: “With the increment, I could send more money to my family back home.”

Another Indonesian, Hasbi, 28, said although his salary as a waiter at a nasi kandar restaurant was RM1,500, he was hopeful of getting an increase in pay.

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