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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Gridlock

The Gridlock

Last Thursday evening, there was a horrendous gridlock in the city. The public holiday in Selangor and the rain had resulted in the usual mass of snarling and resentful drivers. There were no police officers to be seen in the Jalan Raja Chulan area and drivers were taking full advantage of this. They beat lights, cut lanes and forced their way forward to gain that extra inch that would take them closer to some perceived nirvana at the expense of the marginally smoother traffic an uncluttered yellow-boxed area of road would allow for.

Stuck in the mess, on the way to an appointment in the city, I had ample time to observe what was going on and to wonder why it is that those of who were on the road were seemingly incapable of spontaneously organizing ourselves in a way that would allow us to steer our way through the morass, albeit slowly. Wedged at a junction, it struck me that all it would have taken was for drivers on either side of the road to allow two cars to pass through either way at a time. But then it was not to be as someone had attempted to make a u-turn where traffic had made it impossible to do so, and stuck mid-maneuver he had now blocked the passageway.

We inched forward that evening, literally, and I ultimately left my car to walk to my destination. As I did, I noticed cars jumping lanes and rushing headlong on the wrong-side of the road. At one stage, I heard a collision and soon came across angry men shouting at each other. Confronted by a lorry being driven on the correct side of the road, one of these jumpers had tried to cut in and collided with a car. The man whose car he had run into was screaming at him for not having waited in line. Remorseless, the jumper was screaming right back, accusing the other of not having had the consideration to allow him in when confronted by the lorry. All round, drivers were blaring their horns.

Walking on, I mused over why it was that those who jumped lane had done so. It was something I, and it would seem quite a few others judging by the number of drivers who had remained in their lane, would not have done. Speaking for myself, it was not that I feared being caught breaking road-traffic regulations, there were no policemen present after all, but rather that I respected the order that the law, its purpose and inherent respect for others represented. Judging by the events that were occurring before my eyes, there was clearly a very practical dimension to the regulation against driving on the wrong side of the road. Why then did the jumpers feel differently?

On-foot and free amidst the chaos, I suddenly had an insight: there are a great many of us who have lost respect for order simply because we think that there is always a way to get around the consequences of our actions. There are many in the situation of the jumpers who will attempt to bribe a policeman when caught, encouraged by the perception that the policeman concerned will in all probability receive a reasonable bribe of a relatively small amount. Armed with this awareness, the way is open for almost anything and everything.

This is not just about traffic offences; the scenario plays itself out in other situations as well. Corruption is so endemic that it has for all purposes and intents become a way of life, skewing our value systems as it has done so. Considering all that happens around us on a day-to-day basis, I shudder to think what it is that our core values as a society are.

We are also not impervious to the examples set out by those who profess to lead us and it would be self-deluding to think otherwise. When they conduct themselves in a manner that suggests that they are above the law, be it through intimidation or abuses of power, then the average Malaysian will follow suit. For if the system can be made to support that kind of conduct on the part of the former then there is no reason why it should not be the same for the latter.

The harsh reality is that as a consequence our moral compasses no longer point true.

The gridlock in the city last Thursday evening could be, for all purposes and intents, a metaphor for the state of Malaysia. We no longer run in sequence, we see no value in doing so. We instead run our own courses in any way we think best for our own personal interests without any regard to wider Malaysia. Insular, self-interested action has become the order of the day with devastating consequences.

For those who would believe that in taking advantage of the situation,they are doing no more than adapting, the implications of their actions should be kept in mind. These will have deeply entrenched consequences, as we are already seeing. We are a nation that is slowly and surely descending into the lawlessness that contempt for the law entails.

The future that portends is not just about traffic jams and road rage.

(Malay Mail; 16th December 2008)



ChengHo said...

Rakyat enjoying their total freedom
this is free country this is our human right .

Anonymous said...


“All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.”
Article 8 (1), Constitution of Malaysia

“Every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression.”
Article 10 (1A), Constitution of Malaysia

“All citizens have the right to assemble peaceably
and without arms.”
Article 10 (1B), Constitution of Malaysia

SFGEMS said...

You wrote "there are a great many of us who have lost respect for order simply because we think that there is always a way to get around the consequences of our actions."

And it's true. People are being slowly brainwashed into thinking that laws can be adjusted.

I drive through the Tun Razak underpass, coming out of the smart tunnel, every morning on my way to work where there are dozens of signs to imply NO MOTORCYCLES!

They should REMOVE those signs or summon the thousands of motorcyclists who nonchalantly weave in and out of motor vehicles without a second look at the mandatory traffic sign.

People get used to ignoring laws because they are allowed to get away with it and then this spills over to other areas of our life!

I could relate so totally to your post!

Pat said...

It is so sad that all you say here is true. To say that our moral values are in gridlock, is being kind, actually.

The average malaysian thinks it is fine to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. And yes, the gridlock is a metaphor that works for us. Too well.

Just as those who'll just automatically jump into the emergency lane on the highway - simply so they can miss one long minute of putting their foot on the brake!

Laws? Only to be obeyed if there is someone there to enforce it.

So you are right to say:'we see no value in doing so'.

Or moral spine? Flimsy, at best.

Unknown said...

The Chinese Educationist has clearly sabotaged the government’s effort to teach Maths and Science in English.

Only students from Chinese vernacular schools scored between 1–3% in student support towards the system; Tamil and Sekolah Kebangsaan both registered more than 60% preference towards the English by their students.

Even the passing and achievement rate increases in ALL AREAS.


How can you register such a low percentage point?

The only logical answer to that is SABOTAGE!

Ignore and do not teach both subjects in English, and then SCREAM FAILURE!

If I am wrong, then tell me what actually happened? Please give me an excuse that doesn’t make you look stupid, as it is!


In the mean time, THOSE BANGSA MALAYSIA CHAMPIONS from MCA, GERAKAN & DAP are keeping their mouth shut and pretending not to be involved!

Ong Tee Keat, Chua Soi Lek, Lim Kit Siang, Lim Guan Eng and Koh Tsu Koon should make their stand as a man; NOT AS A TONGUE TWISTER COWARDS!

MY TAKE: Support Mukhriz idea of only ONE NATIONAL SCHOOL. Let us make a wise decision and build the REAL BANGSA MALAYSIA.

TO THE GOVERNMENT: Do the right things and do not let these people fool you!

TO CHINESE EDUCATIONIST: Bring on your mammoth RACIST demo!

Unknown said...

what you have written is something i have always wonder about.

did drivers break the law becos the believe they can bribe their way out?

or did they break the law becos they know most of the time there's no traffic police around.

the police who is sitting in their pondok or walking their beat doesnt care less. i seen motorist beating traffic lights, driving on the wrong side of the road in front of these policemen and they just watch.

another phenomenon, if we could say so, is the transformation that came over our drivers once they reach the singapore shore.

for anyone who has taken the tour bus from ipoh or kl to singapore will know what i am talking about.

most drivers will speed all the way and once they passed the singapore check point they suddenly became very law abiding drivers keeping the 80mph or less limit.

and yes, you dont see traffic police sitting (hiding) at corners taking your picture in singapore.

so why the transformation in the drivers?

is it becos of the famous najib- perception of our law enforcer that say we can ignore our traffic police becos they either dont care or can be bribe and we cant ignore the spore traffic police becos they CARE and they cant be bought?

we need the IPCMC and a new IGP and a new pay package to reclaim our police force lost glory.

until then most rakyat wont give a damn to them as they have failed us and they have failed oath in discharging their duty honorably.

Anonymous said...

This is a lesson on Inshaallah and the need to Accept unconditionally[submit to what manifest]and the outcome is peace.

sampalee said...

All the manifestations[gridlock and worse war]are the will of Tuhan.Simply observe and accept unconditionally[Surrender-Islam]and peace prevail.Do not resist the will of Tuhan and be witness to his manifestation.[sort of watching a cosmic movie and one human form is within the movie]All the charecters and landscape in the movie comes from the one projector light of Allah[Al Nur].A holographic display on the screen of emptiness.All one need is understand the scriptures of the quran or any of the holy books of other religions and be free

Anonymous said...

as always, a voice of reason...

delara said...


Very astute observation. I totally agree with you - I think there is only one solution, we each have to "care" a bit more...if we care, about our own lives, life, our loved ones...I suppose we will try to observe the rules in and around us. Not because we are afraid of the authority – it is because it is the right thing to do. Even if there is no corruption in our power that be (police, RTD etc), enforcement is at best a temporary solution. Every time we are faced with a rule or regulation, ask ourselves what is the basis behind it? If it does not make sense, rather than break it, pressure the authority through proper channel to scrape it or change it. If the reason we are breaking the rule is selfish and self fulfilling then think about thousands other who have that same reason – and where will we be?

Starmandala said...

A Chinese scholar once explained what pictograms (the basis of written Chinese) were all about by deconstructing the character wang (meaning "emperor" or "king") thus: the three horizontal strokes represent ti (earth), ren (humanity) and tian (heaven); while the single vertical stroke which completes the pictogram symbolizes the central axis or pillar that holds earth, humanity and heaven in their rightful places and integrates them into a harmonious whole. In effect, when the central axis - the ruler or governor - is bent or weak, disorder, crime and incoherence prevail.

Anonymous said...

i was stuck near the waterfountain area along jln loke yew cos the traffice light was malfunction. it was a jam cos 'some' was too lazy to direct the traffic and they just use the cone n block the traffic and divert everyone from the public bank building back to kl or pj. at least clear the road before blocking it.....n all the way home, i was cursing them......STUPID POLICE!!!

xenobiologista said...

Where's Hobbes' Leviathan when you need it?