After experiencing a road accident, I was led to ponder on how each and every one of us needs to get on the road to responsibility – to take accountability for the current state of affairs. To the many who say “nothing to do with me wat” because they are of the opinion that issues such as judicial rot and governmental failure are of ‘lofty proportions’ to the average man-on-the-street, I implore you.
The new Malaysian?
I had decided to take a leisurely drive to the flea market at TTDI Plaza. I stopped at the traffic lights created specially for TTDI Plaza residents and patrons and was dawdling when the light turned green. I was impatiently honked by the driver behind me for my less than lightning speed response. Unperturbed (yet), I proceeded to turn into Jalan Wan Kadir. In the next instant, I saw a white Kelisa and the shocked look of a girl’s face as she tried, to no avail, to stop from ramming full on into my car.
My life didn’t quite flash before my eyes, but I did see two bright flashes and heard several explosions. Next thing I knew, my car was facing towards KL and the airbag deployment emitted a strange smelling gas which was starting to suffocate me. Pain was searing through my forearms and my chest throbbing – like what I imagine taking a Muhammad Ali jab would be like while being grabbed on the forearms with burning hot gloves.
I later realised that the car that had honked at me had simply driven off after witnessing the accident right in front of him. Another man in a nearby car waiting at the very same lights gallantly came to my assist me out of my car. In the next hour, we sorted out the tow truck and I went for a checkup at the Damansara Specialist Centre. The driver of the white Kelisa, a visibly upset young looking Chinese girl, looked like she had been crying. She refused to speak to any of us. I left her alone as I thought it would be a clear cut case, i.e.: she ran a red light therefore her insurance would cover all damages. Boy, was I naive.
My car had to be towed to the police station. There, I submitted the report and was then told to see the inspector to explain what happened. Apparently his job is to make a judgement or keputusan on who was at fault and be the one the one to get a fine.
The inspector told me to describe what happened using a drawing. He then asked if the other driver is a Chinese girl as well – which I thought was a strange question. I said yes. The inspector called her in and asked us, “What’s the truth? Both of you say the light was green, so who’s telling the truth?” Furious and frustrated, I pointed to the drawing and said “Why would I be so stupid as to run a red light to cross a three-lane highway?” What are the chances that I ran the light at the three-lane turn versus the chances of a car on a long straight road, whose a driver who was sitting there with an arrogant look on her face and not uttering a single word? The inspector said “I can’t make any judgment. If neither of you want to admit fault, you can take it to court. The alternative is to take individual blame, whereby neither party gets to claim on the other party’s insurance, and neither gets a fine.” He then asked us to talk it over and left us alone.
While I can appreciate that without eye witnesses, it was a case of her word versus mine and did not expect the police inspector to ‘just’ decide who was at fault, I was appalled at his disinterest. I merely expected the inspector to sit down one-on-one with the other driver and question her with a little more interest and seriousness. Perhaps he just ‘can’t read her poker face’.
I tried reasoning with her and even tried calling her bluff by saying that I’ll bring this matter to court, but like a seasoned ‘pro’ she stood by her lie – that the light was green on her side. I’m starting to think see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, speak-no-evil has a fourth sibling- admit no evil.
My options were limited. If I took the matter to court, the mechanics couldn’t fix my car until the case was well under way or settled. While in principle bringing the matter to court was what I really wanted to do, unfortunately in this country it is not a desirable option as our justice system and its implements leaves a lot to be desired – and I say this from personal experience. A family member had tried to sue a neighbour for causing damage to his property, and the case had dragged on for 7 years, which finally resulted in the court ruling in favor of the defendant, despite the fact that their lawyers were unprepared and requested postponement due to not having all their documents ready.
Gordon, the chap from the tow truck company I hired also mentioned that because he is based in PJ, he doesn’t have ‘strong connections’ here, whereas the tow truck people that the Kelisa driver hired were very ‘friendly’ with the police there. Another police officer came over to advise us to settle it amicably and started lecturing us on how we should be honest, because if we don’t tell the truth we would not only be lying to the police but also lying to God and to ourselves – ‘A’ for effort I say. I finally had no choice but to sign the statement saying I accept responsibility on my part and would not claim the other party’s insurance. Though it’s only a matter of losing my NCB, it was more the principle of it that I couldn’t stomach.
The view that issues in the news are of ‘lofty proportions’ and does not affect the average joe is one that is myopic. It may not involve everyone directly but its resulting repercussions – inefficiencies, cronyism, and injustice, ripples out to every walk of life – it will have something to do with you. Just as it happened to me. Just as it happened to my relative with the court case. Just as you probably heard happened to a friend who didn’t get his due justice because somebody else has ‘strong connections’.
While many are no longer apathetic, shame-faced social awareness just isn’t cutting it either. Time to add-value and it has to start by not being an ugly Malaysian in our everyday life.
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