When there is an attempt to enforce a rule, the most common reaction is to politicise it and mostly along ethnic lines. Is this typical of Malaysian enforcement culture? Pro-enforcement is still wondering.
Of late, the mainstream media has publicised much about the ban on illegal water sports operators along Batu Ferringhi following an accident involving a Chinese national. There have also been news reports of the Municipal Council tearing down cafes which have been operating without permits or licences and carting away restaurant tables and chairs illegally placed along busy roads. These are recent news reports about so-called enforcement in Penang.
The irony is that many a time, this so-called enforcement will only be activated after a mishap, especially if it involves a foreigner. Even after an “official” ban on water sports activities, the operators are defiant, claiming they have not been duly informed and water sports activities continue at full swing in total defiance of the ban.
This topic of enforcement jolts my memory to an interview carried out by a local news channel a few months ago. The interviewer spoke to many jay walkers along the busy main road at Bukit Bintang. A huge sign of a RM500 fine for jay walking stood nearby. When asked why the jay walkers risked their lives by crossing the road despite a pedestrian bridge close by, their answers were all similar: ”too much trouble using the bridge” or “in a hurry”. When asked whether the RM500 fine mattered, they all answered, “No, because no one has ever been issued a fine”. What more do we have to say about enforcement.
Over a lunch conversation recently with my colleagues from the United States, Singapore and India, we had talked about the parking challenge in Penang. My colleagues from the US and Singapore wonder why the government has not looked into outsourcing the towing of cars. In their respective countries, cars are no longer clamped, but towed away for any illegal parking offence. To get back one’s car involves a lot of paper work, a long time and also a very hefty fine. It is apparently an unforgettable experience and a definite deterrent in future. And back to the business opportunity, their respective governments give a very attractive commission for each car towed away! This really is a business opportunity and potential money spinner. As for my colleague from India, he wondered why the conversation was so intense and serious as by his standard, Penang traffic and parking seems really tame! But then again, we really should not benchmark India for its traffic and parking rules (if any at all!).
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To me, enforcement has to be consistent and sustainable. It is like bringing up children. Enforcement cannot be a one-off attempt and made to seem like a joke. If we have rules and regulations which are not enforced, then really, there is no need for the rule.
I fail to understand why rules and regulations can almost never be enforced here. When there is an attempt to enforce a rule, the most common reaction is to politicise it and mostly along ethnic lines.
Is this typical of Malaysian enforcement culture? I am still wondering.
Pro-enforcement is the pseudonym of a concerned Penang resident.