‘If you’re thinking of escaping from the police, let me tell you one thing – you can hide from us but you can’t run forever.’
IT’S 5.30 in the morning and you are at a traffic lights junction. The lights turn red, but there is not a single vehicle in sight. You have a dilemma – to go or not to go.
A friend told me she would obey the lights, but there have been occasions when she had no choice but to move because of impatient motorists behind her. She feels awful breaking the law.
So, I can understand why she was so excited to share with me a rather different scenario, which took place on Friday.
“I normally leave the house at 5.30am. The roads are almost always void of vehicles, save for the few early risers, like myself,” she said.
“When you are the only person on the road, waiting for the lights to turn green, and with no vehicle coming from the opposite direction, there is always the temptation to drive on. I always stop, unless honked at by those behind me.
“This morning, I was behind a truck, which looked like one used to transport sand and rocks.
“I assumed that the driver would drive through the lights, like the others. What a surprise! He waited until the lights turned green.
“I was so happy as I stopped behind him and didn’t have to worry about going through the red light.
“This happened not once, but over the next three traffic lights. Each time, the driver just waited patiently until the lights turned green.
“It also shows me that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover nor a driver by his vehicle. I had assumed someone who drives such a truck probably couldn’t care less about running the red lights but I was wrong.
“I learnt a useful lesson this morning.”
I am sure the Federal traffic police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Mohd Fuad Abdul Latiff, who is supervising the Ops Warta, will be happy to know that there are law-abiding citizens on the road who do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
This is such a direct contrast to the many recalcitrant offenders who break the law as a matter of course.
I know a businessman who considers speeding tickets as part of his expenses account because he says there is no way he can keep to the highway speed limits. Fortunately, he settles all his summonses.
I have been sharing my thoughts with SAC Mohd Fuad on this issue of traffic offenders and I appreciate his candour.
About the ongoing operation, his message is simple: “If you’re thinking of escaping from the police, let me tell you one thing – you can hide from us but you can’t run forever.”
And yet, I can sense that there are many out there who believe the long arm of the law will never reach them.
The fact that so many summonses remain unpaid, and that warrants of arrest run into such huge numbers, gives the impression that the problem is insurmountable.
But SAC Mohd Fuad is a man on a mission. The current operation is showing good results but more importantly, he says, he has not received any public complaints about the way his men are carrying out their duties.
He knows there is a perception that the traffic cops “pick and choose” traffic offenders.
He wants the public to understand that his men are doing their work “without fear or favour”.
Not many are aware that when SAC Mohd Fuad was deputy traffic chief, he was involved in an accident where he was clearly at fault.
In another accident, his son was the guilty party. Both father and son got summoned – no special favours.
This is the kind of story we like to hear. When we know that the law is blind to our station in life and the make of our car, then I believe a tipping point can be reached when even the most recalcitrant of traffic offenders will start obeying the law.
Executive editor Soo Ewe Jin quotes sociologist Robert Bellah who said: “We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a new vision of a just and gentle world. The quality of a culture may be changed when 2% of its people have a new vision.” The STAR Home News Opinion Columnist 31 May 2015