Monday could not have come quickly enough for Transport Minister Anthony Loke as he became the butt of criticism over the weekend for his apparent kid gloves treatment of traffic offenders caught speeding on camera under the now-discredited automated enforcement system (AES).
All through the weekend and on a particularly popular early morning business radio talk show on Monday, Loke was roundly panned for misplaced generosity in letting highway speedsters off the hook.
The decision to implement the AES – where the terms were lopsided in favour of two private entity awardees – were taken with the Transport ministry helmed by MCA ministers
He had on Friday announced that the concession agreement to operate the AES given to two companies - ATES Sdn Bhd and Beta Tegap Sdn Bhd - by the previous government would be brought to an end on August 31. In doing so, 3.1 million AES summonses totalling RM435 million from the date the system came into force in 2012 to Aug 31 would be cancelled.
This he said, was no more than simply fulfilling the Pakatan Harapan pledge to erase the summonses totally within 100 days of taking over government following its victory in the 14th General Elections.
Loke released all his pent-up vitriol for the MCA. Over the weekend, its youth chief Datuk Leong Kim Soon went public with his claim that the decision to write off all AES summonses was aimed at satisfying the public and to encourage motorists to break the law. He went on to say that traffic offenders should be penalised.
Leong further admonished Loke and demanded an apology for making foolish and wrong decision with regards to the cancellation. He also warned that the early announcement meant that motorists now have two weeks of anarchic honeymoon on the highways.
Leong also took umbrage at the cancellation of the fines which he said would encourage road users to break the law.
What must have riled up Loke even more was the contention that this decision was a populist move and not properly thought out in detail, only serving to win over the public.
Visibly pumped up, Loke took to coarse language in defending the decision and that criticism was welcome – but not from MCA.
For those who failed to notice, he said that the decision to implement the AES – where the terms were lopsided in favour of two private entity awardees – were taken with the Transport ministry helmed by MCA ministers.
He resorted to use the `f-word’ – FOOLS, to describe the actions of the MCA ministers. “Only fools will sign such an agreement. Please use your brain before you talk, as it will reflect poorly on the MCA,” as he put the boot in.
Only fools will sign such an agreement. Please use your brain before you talk, as it will reflect poorly on the MCA
Loke provided details about the amounts payable in two tiers to the lucky concessionaires. The first payment of RM16 is due for every summons issued. This is then followed by a further 50 percent of the fines subsequently collected. (Offenders are liable to pay a maximum fine of up to RM300 for the speeding offence caught on AES camera).
He then went on to say that come September 1 when the system is taken over by the government, offenders will learn that accusations of the government being soft on traffic offenders are far from the truth.
Loke said there will be no appeal at reduction of the fines and that enforcement action will be well mounted, executed and administered by the police and the Road Transport Department.