Monday, July 28, 2008

What are roads in Malaysia used for?

(Somebody sent this by email)

Written by David Astley, a British/Ozzie guy now living in KL

A guide for expatriate drivers in Malaysia

Since arriving in Malaysia in 1997, I have tried on many occasions to buy a copy of the Malaysian road rules, but have come to the conclusion that no such publication exists (or if it does, it has been out of print for years). Therefore after carefully observing the driving habits of Malaysian drivers, I believe I have at last worked out the rules of the road in Malaysia.

For the benefit of other expatriates living in Malaysia, and the 50% of local drivers who acquired their driving licences without taking a driving test, I am pleased to share my knowledge below:

Q: What is the most important rule of the road in Malaysia?
A: The most important rule is that you must arrive at your destination ahead of the car in front of you. This is the sacrosanct rule of driving in Malaysia. All other rules are subservient to this rule.

Q: What side of the road should you drive on in Malaysia?
A: 99.7% of cars drive on the left hand side, 0.2% on the right hand side, and 0.1% drive in reverse (be on the look out for drivers reversing at high speed in the left hand lane of freeways, having just missed their exit). Therefore on the basis of 'majority rules', it is recommended that you drive on the left. However, be aware that only 90% of motorcyclists travel on the left hand side - the other 10% ride in the opposite direction or on the sidewalk. Fortunately, motorcyclists traveling in reverse are rarely seen.

Q: What are the white lines on the roads?
A: These are known as lane markers and were used by the British in the colonial days to help them drive straight. Today their purpose is mainly decorative, although a double white line is used to indicate a place that is popular to overtake.

Q: When can I use the emergency lane?
A: You can use the emergency lane for any emergency, e.g. you are late for work, you left the toaster plugged in at home, you are bursting to go to the toilet, you have a toothache or you have just dropped your Starbucks coffee in your lap. As it is an emergency, you may drive at twice the speed of the other cars on the road.

Q: Do traffic lights have the same meaning as in other countries?
A: Not quite. Green is the same that means "Go", but amber and red are different. Amber means "Go like hell" and red means "Stop if there is traffic coming in the other direction or if there is a policeman on the corner". Otherwise red means the same as green. Note that for buses, red lights do not take effect until five seconds after the light has changed.

Q: What does the sign "Jalan Sehala" mean?
A: This means "One Way Street" and indicates a street where the traffic is required to travel in one direction. The arrow on the sign indicates the preferred direction of the traffic flow, but is not compulsory. If the traffic is not flowing in the direction in which you wish to travel, then reversing in that direction is the best option.

Q: What does the sign "Berhenti" mean?
A: This means "Stop", and is used to indicate a junction where there is a possibility that you may have to stop if you cannot fool the cars on the road that you are entering into thinking that you are not going to stop.

Q: What does the sign "Beri Laluan" mean?
A: This means "Give Way", and is used to indicate a junction where the cars on the road that you are entering will give way to you provided you avoid all eye contact with them and you can fool them into thinking that you have not seen them.

Q: What does the sign "Dilarang Masuk" mean?
A: This means "No Entry". However, when used on exit ramps in multi-storey car parks, it has an alternative meaning which is: "Short cut to the next level up".

Q: What does the sign "Pandu Cermat" mean?
A: This means "Drive Smartly", and is placed along highways to remind drivers that they should never leave more than one car length between them and the car in front, irrespective of what speed they are driving. This is to ensure that other cars cannot cut in front of you and thus prevent you from achieving the primary objective of driving in Malaysia, and that is to arrive ahead of the car in front of you.
If you can see the rear number plate of the car in front of you, then you are not driving close enough.

Q: What is the speed limit in Malaysia?
A: The concept of a speed limit is unknown in Malaysia.

Q: So what are the round signs on the highways with the numbers, 60, 80 and
A: This is the amount of the 'on-the-spot' fine (in ringgits - the local currency) that you have to pay to the police if you are stopped on that stretch of the highway. Note that for expatriates or locals driving Mercedes or BMWs, the on-the-spot fine is double the amount shown on the sign.

Q: Where do you pay the 'on-the-spot' fine?
A: As the name suggests, you pay it 'on-the-spot' to the policeman who has stopped you. You will be asked to place your driving licence on the policeman's notebook that he will hand to you through the window of your car. You will note that there is a spot on the cover of the notebook. Neatly fold the amount of your fine into four, place the fine on the spot, and then cover it with your driving licence so that it cannot be seen. Pass it carefully to the policeman. Then, with a
David Copperfield movement of his hands, he will make your money disappear. It is not necessary to applaud.

Q: But isn't this a bribe?
A: Oh pleeease, go and wash your mouth out. What do you want? A traffic ticket? Yes, you can request one of those instead, but it will cost you twice the price, forms to fill out, cheques to write, envelopes to mail, and then three months later when you are advised that your fine was never received, more forms to fill out, a trip to the police station, a trip to the bank, a trip back to the police station, and maybe then you will wish you had paid 'on-the-spot'.

Q: But what if I haven't broken any road rules?
A: It is not common practice in Malaysia to stop motorists for breaking road rules (because nobody is really sure what they are). The most common reasons for being stopped are:
(a) the policeman is hungry and would like you to buy him lunch;
(b) the policeman has run out of petrol and needs some money to get back to the station;
(c) you look like a generous person who would like to make a donation to the police
welfare fund; or
(d) you are driving an expensive car which means you can afford to make a donation to the police welfare fund.

Q: Does my car require a roadworthy certificate before I can drive it in Malaysia?
A: No, roadworthy certificates are not required in Malaysia. However there are certain other statutory requirements that must be fulfilled before your car can be driven in Malaysia.
Firstly, you must ensure that your windscreen is at least 50% obscured with English football
club decals, golf club membership stickers or condo parking permits.
Secondly, you must place a tissue box (preferably in a white lace cover) on the back shelf of your car under the rear window.
Thirdly, you must hang as many CDs or plastic ornaments from your rear vision mirror as it will support. Finally, you must place a Garfield doll with suction caps on one of your windows. Your car will then be ready to drive on Malaysian roads.

Q: What does a single yellow line along the edge of a road mean?
A: This means parking is permitted.

Q: What does a double yellow line along the edge of a road mean?
A: This means double parking is permitted.

Q: What does a yellow box with a diagonal grid of yellow lines painted on the road at a junction mean?
A: Contrary to the understanding of some local drivers, this does not mean that diagonal parking is permitted. It indicates a junction that is grid-locked at peak hours.

Q: Can I use my mobile phone whilst driving in Malaysia?
A: No problem at all, but it should be noted that if you wish to use the rear-vision mirror to put on your lipstick (women only please) or trim your eyebrows at the same time as you are using a mobile phone in the other hand, you should ensure that you keep an elbow free to steer the car. Alternatively, you may place a toddler on your lap and have the child steer the car whilst you are carrying out these other essential driving tasks.

Q: Is it necessary to use indicator lights in Malaysia?
A: These blinking orange lights are commonly used by newly arrived expatriate drivers to indicate they are about to change lanes. This provides a useful signal to local drivers to close up any gaps to prevent the expatriate driver from changing lanes. Therefore it is recommended that expatriate drivers adopt the local practice of avoiding all use of indicator lights. However, it is sometimes useful to turn on your left hand indicator if you want to merge right, because this confuses other drivers enabling you to take advantage of an unprotected gap in the traffic.

Q: Why do some local drivers turn on their left hand indicator and then turn right, or turn on their right hand indicator and then turn left?
A: This is one of the unsolved mysteries of driving in Malaysia.

Q. What is the use of the hazard warning lights?
A. Contrary to all international protocol, this four way flashing light is = switched on when the Police are escorting VIPs on the road to warn lesser mortals to move out of the way and not hinder the flow of the motorcade.
Taking a cue from the Police, motorists use this at the slightest excuse when it rains to tell other motorist to get out of the way as using their hazard light anoints them with powers that part the traffic, somewhat akin to Moses parting the Red Sea.

When PAS leaders LIED (Reports From Malaysiakini)

I am not a member of any political parties but a keen observer on the on-goings in political arena. I have limited knowledge about politics as well as do not have much trust on almost all politicians, especially if there are from UMNO and its allies.

In my previous entry, I did say that I was confused and disillusioned about UMNO-PAS muzakarah.

Well, it is not only me but some PAS leaders as well are upset. Some greedy or too-ambitious leaders have their own agendas and again as political animals, they will go for their own desires (like being offered deputy PM or ministers) rather than think for those who had voted them as their MPs at the first place.

PAS leaders, ulamaks or not, are not maksum. They make mistakes, have their weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and some of the predecessors had misjudged on UMNO's previous pact offers, based on ketuanan or unity. UMNO leaders's real motive is only for their own survival and PAS leaders will be again conned by the beautiful word of ketuanan or unity.

There are bigger agendas for a better Malaysia, one important step is to get rid of UMNOputeras who have sodomized the country under the ketuanan Melayu!

Muzakarahs or now muqabalahs with pre-set mind on getting ministerial posts are for disasters. If PAS really going for a pact with UMNO, then the real winner will be the UMNOputeras who will have more time and avenues to rape/sodomize our country dulu, kini dan selamanya.

Read these two reports from Malaysiakini.

Saari: Some PAS leaders keen on pact with Umno
Syed Jaymal Zahiid Jul 28, 08 5:52pm
There are some PAS leaders who are seriously considering the possibility of a political alliance between the Islamic opposition party and its arch rival Umno.

This revelation comes from PAS Selangor information chief Saari Sungib amid denials from the party’s top leadership that no such cooperation will take place.
Speaking to malaysiakini today, Saari said PAS deputy president Nasaruddin Mat Isa and the party’s commissioner for Terengganu Mustapha Ali are solidly behind the idea.
"They believe that if PAS leaders can hold some key ministerial posts in the Umno-led federal government, it will be possible to initiate changes from within," he added.
This could deliver another blow to Pakatan Rakyat whose intra-party ties have been strained since the secret PAS-Umno talks were exposed by former Selangor menteri besar Dr Khir Mohd Toyo and Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Pakatan Rakyat is the opposition alliance comprising PKR, PAS and DAP. It's stalwart Anwar Ibrahim has also publicly stated that they could make up the numbers with the help of defectors from Barisan Nasional to take over the government.
Last week, Abdullah and Khir confirmed that Umno secretly made an offer to PAS to jointly rule Selangor just a few days after the March 8 polls. The post of MB was offered to Selangor PAS chief Hasan Ali.
However, PAS had rejected the proposal as they had already backed PKR treasurer general Khalid Ibrahim for the post.
Meanwhile, Saari said that it was Nasaruddin who instructed Hasan to meet with the Umno leaders.
"The meeting between them was given the green light by the central party leadership. It was Nasaruddin who instructed Hasan to meet with Umno leaders," he added.
PAS grassroots see red
Saari also pointed out that the PAS grassroots were unhappy with the current meeting between the party and its political adversary.
"Anwar (Ibrahim) had tried to do the same thing (initiate changes) when he joined Umno but he failed. PAS also did the same thing when it joined Barisan Nasional in the past and failed to initiate any changes.
"A lot of people are already injured by this meeting proposal and the grassroots are saying enough is enough," he added.
Saari said a battle of political strategies is taking place, with Umno "trying to sever the Pakatan bond" while PAS is trying to "infiltrate Umno and make changes from within."
In view of this, the PAS leader said he has urged PAS Selangor to hold an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.
"I have urged PAS Selangor deputy commissioner and central committee member Abdul Khalid Samad to hold an emergency meeting so that we can direct our input into solving this matter," he added.

Will DAP back PAS?
As for the relationship between Pakatan parties, Saari claimed that the alliance is not perturbed by the current development despite what is being reported in the mainstream media.

"I spoke to (DAP leader and Selangor exco) Ronnie (Liu) and he told me that the alliance will not be torn apart by the PAS-Umno meetings and he understood why (they took place) and is willing to defend PAS on this issue," he said.

DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh, however, has openly questioned PAS’ loyalty to Pakatan.

Calling it an "act of bad faith", Karpal said DAP and PKR were not informed about the top-level talks.

"The assurance by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to Pakatan Rakyat partners that PAS will not abandon the alliance to join BN is not bona fide and not supported by past events," he was quoted as saying by the New Straits Times.

Mahfuz: Sorry for the lie over PAS-Umno meetings
Syed Jaymal Zahiid Jul 28, 08 6:59pm
PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar today apologised for not telling the truth about the party's meeting with Umno and claimed he received directives from certain top leaders to do so.
Mahfuz, in his capacity as the party's information chief, had in the past officially denied that PAS had met with Umno to discuss the possibility of jointly ruling Selangor.

However, subsequently Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revealed that there had been three meetings between the parties, beginning right after the March 8 general election. PAS leaders since then had confirmed the meetings.

"I write this open letter to sincerely apologise to all PAS members and supporters denying that the party had met with Umno. Again I apologise for my misdemeanour," said Mahfuz in a two-page statement issued today.

He stressed that the denial was not made on his personal capacity but was done in his capacity as the party's information chief and based on the instruction given to him by the party leadership.

He added that the blame must not be placed on the shoulders of the party leadership as a whole but on a "few individuals that failed to give the real picture to party leaders".

"Their decision to keep certain issues pertaining to the PAS-Umno meeting in the dark had prompted the party leaders to take the position of perceiving that no meetings between the both parties had taken place," he said.

"Because of these individuals, who had in the name of PAS and without the knowledge of the party central working committee, did not provide detailed information on the matter, the party leadership had instructed me to issue the denial," he added.

Refusing to name anyone

Mahfuz, also the Pokok Sena MP, wants the "few individuals" to come forward and explain to party members and supporters the details of what had transpired in the meetings.

"They must claim responsibility because this had happened due to their indiscretion. I myself was surprised when they (Umno leaders) and PAS president (Hadi Awang) had confirmed that meetings did take place, which was contrary to what I had stated initially," said Mahfuz further.

When contacted, Mahfuz refused to name the responsible persons, saying that it was enough that an open apology has been issued and that the matter will one day "unravel itself".

Immediately after his denial of the meetings, Mahfuz had then received numerous criticism from PAS members, supporters and fellow Pakatan Rakyat members.

"I realised that history will not repeat itself but humans do make mistakes. I urge other PAS leaders to be honest to our members and supporters and to also focus on strengthening our political ties with our fellow Pakatan members," he said.

Mahfuz said he was also ready to face any criticism or punishment by party members following his "accidental mistake".