Insurance News

BACK TO SCHOOL – All heavy-duty drivers to be retrained
31 March 2005, By New Straits Times

Some of the most reckless and dangerous drivers on Malaysian roads will be going back to school. By the end of the year, bus, lorry and other commercial vehicle drivers will have to attend a compulsory two-day programme designed to equip them with defensive driving skills and cut out bad habits nurtured over the years, sources told the New Straits Times. Every two years after that, they will have to attend two-day refresher courses. The move is part of the Government’s effort to reduce the number of fatal accidents and improve safety for other road users. More than 6,000 Malaysians are killed on the road every year. Last year, some 400 express buses were involved in accidents every month. Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Emran Kadir told the NST that those seeking new commercial and heavy vehicle licences would have to undergo a three-day course at purpose-built centres around the country. The first centre has been built in Kuala Langat. Here, drivers will be shown how to handle vehicles in difficult conditions such as wet and slippery roads and hilly terrain. There will also be instructions in highway traffic regulations. Other centres will be set up in Johor, Perak, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak. “Once it goes nationwide, we hope to see some changes in the driving skills of commercial and heavy vehicle drivers,” said Emran. The centres will be run by Automotive Centre of Excellence (ACE) and the curriculum will be drawn up by the Transport Ministry. ACE chief executive officer Scott Gibson said there were about 300 deaths from road accidents in Australia annually and 6,000 here. “The road conditions in Malaysia are so much better than those in Australia but the accident rate here is so much higher,” he said, blaming incompetent drivers for the death toll. “We have identified some of the causes and have drawn up curricula to improve driving skills. “Some drivers tailgate but do not know how to apply brakes, especially when carrying a heavy load.” Gibson said the programme would teach drivers how to react to danger. “Some drivers are not aware of fatigue symptoms. We will help them manage fatigue successfully.” Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh noted that the present training for commercial vehicle drivers leaned heavily on theory. “We are hoping to achieve a balance between hands-on driving and in-class training. Drivers cannot learn much from just sitting in the classroom.” Defensive driving was introduced by the RTD in 1995 but has been confined to classroom teaching so far.

His finger for his car
31 March 2005, By New Straits Times

There is a team of carjackers on the prowl in Subang Jaya and what they did to accountant K. Kumaran on Monday shows how ruthless they can be. They chopped off part of his left index finger when they realised that his S-Class Mercedes Benz had a security feature which would immobilise the car without his fingerprint. They also stripped him of all his valuables and left him naked along the Federal Highway. His ordeal started at 7pm on Monday. While walking to his second-hand RM300,000 car which was parked near his office in SS19, he was knocked down from behind by a Honda Civic. “I fell face first and four men armed with parangs came out of the car. They forced me to hand over my car keys and then asked for my car security card (a keyless alarm system needed to start some Mercedes cars). “I told them that my car did not have a security card but a system which requires my fingerprint. “They forced me to put my finger on the panel and then started the car. They bundled me into the back, between the seats and used my tie to blindfold me, ” he said from his hospital bed at the Damansara Specialist Centre. The 29-year-old explained that the security system accepts the prints of both index fingers and thumbs. Without a fingerprint, the car engine would cut off after a few minutes. Kumaran’s younger brother saw him being pushed into the car by the carjackers, and immediately lodged a report at the Subang Jaya police station. Kumaran, meanwhile, was driven to an unknown location. “I was blindfolded so I did not know where I was. I could tell that they stripped my car of its CD player and speakers. “At this point, two other men arrived and were asked whether they could bypass the immobiliser system. They said they could not.” Frustrated that they could not bypass the system, the four men again bundled Kumaran into the back seat of the car, and one of them hit him with the parang. After driving for awhile, they stopped and gang members took the victim’s two handphones, gold chain and wallet. “They asked me for my Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) for the automated teller machine cards that I had in my wallet. Fearing for my life, I gave the numbers to them,” he said. Kumaran was stripped naked and made to put his left hand on the ground. One of the thieves then used his parang to chop off the tip of his index finger. “I cried out in pain and they pushed me into a drain. When they had sped off, I took off my blindfold and found that I was by the side of the Federal Highway not far from the Batu Tiga toll plaza in Shah Alam.” The recently-engaged accountant walked a few hundred metres to the toll plaza to seek help. He was sent by police to Putrajaya Hospital for treatment. Later that night, he decided to check himself into the Damansara Specialist Centre. Kumaran said police investigators told him that the gang’s modus operandi was similar to several recent carjacking cases in Subang Jaya. Subang Jaya police chief Assistant Commissioner Fuad Talib confirmed the incident.

New Buildings May Be Required To Be Quake Proof
30 March 2005, By BERNAMA

IPOH, March 30 — The Peninsular Malaysia Town and Country Planning Department is planning guidelines for building structures to take into consideration foundations that can withstand earthquakes. Its Director-General, Mohd Fadhil Mohd Khir said at the moment the department has 43 guidelines but none of them provide for earthquakes. “We are thinking of a guideline stressing anti-earthquake measures. There were none before this because Malaysia is not in the seismic activity zone,” he said at a town and country planning workshop for Perak, here Wednesday. The workshop was opened by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali. Mohd Fadhil said though the epicentre of the latest earthquake last Saturday was in the waters off West Sumatra, the use of new anti-earthquake building technologies was needed as tremors were felt in several areas in the peninsula. “This is a new phenomenon. Tremors were felt in Alor Setar, Penang, Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur,” he said. Several sinkholes appeared in Ipoh, and one house was badly damaged when part of the building collapsed into a sinkhole. No one was injured. The latest 8.5 magnitude earthquake has reportedly claimed more than 430 lives on Indonesia’s Nias Island, located off the west coast of Sumatera with the body count still mounting. Tremors were felt as far away as the east coast of Malaysia and Singapore. The quake comes in the wake of the one on Dec 26, which sent giant waves crashing into 12 countries fringing the Indian Ocean, killing over 273,000 people. However, this time the quake did not unleash deadly tsunamis. Mohd Fadhil said the new building guidelines would incorporate the use of rubber which would be good for the rubber industry. “Whether it will be made compulsory or not will depend on studies being carried out,” he said, adding that the guidelines would also provide for evacuation routes from buildings in times of emergencies. Tajol Rosli said he would ask municipal and district councils in Perak to require piling works to be done before projects for building of houses and high rises were undertaken. “The Kinta Valley is mostly ex-mining land. If we don’t do piling, there will be problems… housing estates normally do, but houses built in kampungs don’t,” he said. He said the Geoscience and Minerals Department could cooperate with the councils to study soil structure in areas to be developed. He was referring to a house in Kuala Dipang near here, which collapsed about 30 minutes after the 12.09 am quake in Sumatrea. “A one-metre sinkhole also appeared near my house after the last December quake, but the Geoscience and Minerals Department confirmed my house to be safe,” he added.

Tremors In Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya And Selangor
29 March 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, March 29 — Minor tremors were reported here, in Putrajaya and several places in Selangor following the earthquake in West Sumatra slightly after midnight. The Fire and Rescue Department in Jalan Hang Tuah here recorded many calls of tremors around 2.30pm Tuesday from flat dwellers at the Menara Well, Jalan Ipoh, Jalan Pekeliling and the Danau Impian Apartment in Setapak. Residents in the coastal areas in Penang, Perak, Kedah, Perlis and Langkawi which were hard hit by tsunami on December 26, had been ordered to move to safer areas. The department also received calls from residents of Putrajaya of minor tremors at 2.15pm. The Meteorological Department said the tremor in West Sumatra at 2.16pm, Tuesday measured 5.5 on the Richter scale. The Fire and Rescue Department received a call at 2.46pm of a minor tremor in Rawang, Selangor. Similar reports were also received from residents of high-rise buildings in Shah Alam, Selangor. The state administration office, the 22-storey Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, where the Menteri Besar’s office is located, experienced a tremor at 2.20pm Tuesday, forcing many of the staff to scramble out to the open space, only to return 15 minutes later after it was declared safe. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo was at a function in Gombak at that time. Head of State Public Relations Department Mohd Razhali Abdul Rahman said the tremor could be felt in about three minutes, but the Fire and Rescue Department declared the building safe, without any traces of cracks. A tremor was also felt for about 30 seconds at the Worldwide commercial centre n Section 13, Shah Alam, and Taman Alam Megah here. The Shah Alam District Police Chief ACP Abdul Wahab Embong said they received at least 150 calls from Shah Alam and its surrounding areas since the earthquake erupted at slightly after midnight. “Our advice to the residents was that they should just go out to the open space until the buildings were declared safe,” he said. The Civil Defence Department (JPA3) received a call of a tremor at the 10th block of the Bandar Sultan Sulaiman in Port Klang and declared it safe about 45 minutes of checking. A tremor was also felt at the North Port, but it did not hamper the port’s operations.

Tremors Felt In Peninsular Malaysia
29 March 2005, By BERNAMA

March 29, 2005 02:37 AM KUALA LUMPUR, — Tremors were felt in many parts of Peninsular Malaysia just after 12 am Tuesday, eye-witnesses said. Many people living in high rise buildings rushed down from their dwellings, they said. Those who ran down said they felt giddy after the tremors, reported to have lasted for more than 20 seconds. Guests at Nikko Hotel here also rushed down from their hotel rooms. Jagiee Kaur, a media consultant from Kuala Lumpur who was holidaying in Teluk Intan, said she and her family members ran out of her house when the tremors began. She immediately contacted the police station and police officers on duty told her that they had been receiving a lot of calls following the tremors. Police said they were putting their officers on the alert. An eye-witness said some phone lines in Penang were disconnected. “They can’t call out,” she said. Many people in Penang said the tremors were similar to the ones which were felt on Dec 26 when the tsunami killer waves hit many parts of the state. Those staying in Bayan Lepas near the Penang international airport and Teluk Air Tawar near the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base in Butterworth also felt the tremors. Fishermen in Penang had also gone to tie up their boats by the beach as they were afraid that they would lose their boats. Meanwhile, wire news reports said an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 on the Richter scale was reported off the coast of Sumatra. Penang Chief Police Officer Datuk Christopher Wan said he had directed his officers to ask people staying near coastal areas to evacuate. An eye-witness said the people were more prepared this time around after the devastating Dec 26 tsunami had killed hundreds of thousands of people. “Many are scared and they are not taking any chances, especially those staying near the coast,” she added. The Pacific tsunami warning centre had said that the latest earthquake could generate a “widely destructive tsunami”. There were also reports that residents in the Klang Valley, especially in Puchong, Bandar Sunway and Kota Damansara, had felt the tremors. Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia) President Datuk Dr Jemilah Mahmood said that from information garnered from the society’s members serving in Aceh, the area badly affected by the earthquake was Sibolga, South Tapanuli, in Sumatra. The members in Aceh were safe, according to Dr Jemilah.

80% believe they won’t get caught
28 March 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 80% of Malaysians drivers believe they will not be caught when they commit road offences. A recent survey by Universiti Putra Malaysia revealed that the “risk-taking behaviour” included beating red lights, speeding, driving too closely to the car in front, overtaking dangerously and cutting queues at emergency lanes. The survey indicated that only 17% to 25% of drivers were conscious of the possibility of getting caught for their wrongdoings. Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh said the drivers’ perception that they would not be caught for their offences was a “risky behaviour.” “Drivers are not adhering to the law (which) can only result in more accidents and fatalities. “The department is working closely with the police and Road Transport Department (JPJ) to reduce this figure (percentage) through better education and enforcement,” said Suret Singh. He said that in developed countries, 95% of motorists believe they would be caught for violating traffic rules and Malaysia was working towards this target. Suret Singh was responding to an Automobile Association of Malaysia (AAM) message to its members in its Drive magazine that the results from the road safety campaigns had not been satisfactory. AAM chairman Tunku Datuk Mudzaffar Tunku Mustapha said that despite the many campaigns held annually, the end results were far from satisfactory. “Although enforcement by various agencies has been stepped up, the desired result to change the negative attitude of the vast majority of the motoring public has not been achieved. “Enforcement should not be given less priority at anytime. It should, in fact, be further strengthened to combat the ongoing problem related to ‘speed freaks,’ carelessness and inconsiderate driving,” he added. According to an Asian Development Bank study, road accidents cost RM9.12bil in economic losses to Malaysia, equivalent to 2.4% of gross domestic product last year. There were 6,223 fatalities and 46,420 injuries resulting from road crashes last year.

Almost 50 Motorcycles Stolen Every Day!
24 March 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — The General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) announced a 59 percent jump in motorcycle thefts reported to insurers last year. In a statement here Thursday, PIAM said there were 17,762 reported cases of motorcycle thefts last year compared to 11,142 in 2003. This meant almost 50 motorcycles were stolen everyday last year! The three most popular targets were Honda motorcycles of various models (7,802), followed by Yamaha (6,294) and Modenas (2,039). Selangor recorded the highest number of motorcycle thefts (6,001), whilst Wilayah Persekutuan (3,069) and Pulau Pinang (1,673) came in second and third respectively. PIAM’s executive director Lim Chia Fook said the insurance industry incurred claims amounting to RM67 million for motorcycle theft losses last year. This was almost double the theft losses in 2003 which amounted to RM34 million. In view of the escalation in the number of motorcycle thefts, PIAM has advised motorcycle owners to adopt enhanced security measures. Among the measures to reduce the risk of motorcycle thefts, owners should apply extra locks such as dual-lock system, fork lock and wheel lock on their vehicles, it said. Parking should be always also in a well-lit area or with a group of other motorcycles. “Beware of persons offering to sell motorcycles or motorcycle spare parts and accessories at very much below prevailing market prices. You may be buying stolen property,” said Lim. PIAM is the national association, representing all 35 licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia.

Four charged with stealing and retaining seven cars
24 March 2005, By The Star

Penang: Four men were charged in two magistrate’s courts yesterday with stealing and retaining seven Proton cars worth between RM30,000 and RM72,000 each. Car workshop assistant Ng Tee Wan, 38, and Tan Sim Chai, 22, claimed trial to stealing a Proton Waja belonging to Teh Siew Hoon, 51, at Taman Seri Damai, Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang, between Jan 6 and Jan 7. Ng and Tan are also jointly charged with possessing two bags containing tools used for stealing vehicles. They were allowed bail of RM2,000 each pending sentencing on May 4. Ng and Neoh Teik Kok, 23, claimed trial to stealing a Waja belonging to Tan Seah Toe, 51, in Taman Bukit Jambul, between last June 8 and June 9. Neoh pleaded guilty to retaining Teh’s car in Jelutong on March 14. Ng claimed trial to separate charges of stealing two Wira Aerobacks and a Waja between Jan 23 and Feb 19. He also claimed trial to stealing a Perdana between Jan 12 and Jan 13. The fourth accused, Ng Hang Hua, 53, claimed trial to retaining a stolen Waja in Bukit Mertajam on March 17. All the accused were allowed bail ranging from RM4,000 to RM8,000 for each charge pending trial. =end=

Four Held and 40 stolen cars recovered in farming village
22 February 2005, By The Star

TELUK INTAN: With tracts of padi land and durian orchards, Kampung Gajah, about 50km north of here, has been a thriving farming village for years. However, the police reckon that it may as well be known as “Kampung Kancil” after they nabbed four men who allegedly sold dirt-cheap Perodua Kancil cars to gullible buyers in the “elephant village” and outlying areas. The suspects, aged 30 to 40, were found to have resold the cars at between RM4,000 and RM6,000 each to their customers, who included civil servants and self-employed villagers. The buyers reportedly paid in cash, and there were some who bought two or three cars. Of 40 cars recovered following the arrest of the four men over the past week, 29 were Perodua Kancil models. The others were three Proton Waja, three Proton Wira, two Proton Perdana and a Proton Iswara, Honda Accord and Mercedes Benz C200. So far, Perak police have ascertained that 26 of the seized Kancil were stolen and they are checking the status of the others with their counterparts in Bukit Aman and Johor, where most of the thefts were reported. The cars, with a market value of more than RM1mil, were recovered from buyers in Kampung Gajah, Pengkalan Pegoh in Ipoh and here. State deputy CID chief Supt Abdul Rahman Hashim said the cars all had false number plates and road tax discs and were without registration cards or insurance coverage. “However, their engine and chassis numbers were not tampered with,” he said at a press conference at the Kampung Gajah police station yesterday, adding that the scam had been going on since last month. Supt Abdul Rahman said police were alerted about the sale of the cars after the officer in-charge of the Kampung Gajah police station, Sub-Insp Hasan Nor, received a tip-off that a villager had bought a Perodua Kancil for only RM5,000. He alerted Perak Tengah district crime chief Asst Supt Mohd Sahar Abdul Aziz, who then led a police team to detain a 34-year-old security guard on Feb 15. They recovered RM90,000 believed to be from the sale of the stolen cars. Supt Abdul Rahman said the team recovered several cars from the man. After interrogating the guard, police traced three other men the following day and seized more cars. Several days later, some of the buyers voluntarily surrendered their cars at the police station after word about the racket spread. Supt Abdul Rahman said the buyers had been told that the cars were cheap because the vehicles were offered for tender by the Customs Department. “We are investigating whether there are more such cars out there and if more people are involved,” he said. Kampung Gajah state assemblyman Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, when contacted, said he was shocked that the small town had such racketeers as well as gullible buyers. “How can they buy? Greedy people … as long as they can buy at a cheap price they don’t care whether the documents are proper or not,” he said.

Guidelines To Regulate Tow Truck Operations on the Way
19 February 2005, By BERNAMA

RAWANG, Feb 19 (Bernama) — The Road Transport Department (RTD) will draw up rules to govern an old and sometimes disreputable trade — tow truck operation. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the business needs to regulated including requiring the operators to be registered and issued with permits. “We are looking into this and will come up with the guidelines on how to regulate tow truck activities. RTD has been asked to look into this. “I have not given them (RTD) any time frame. I will leave it to them to prepare the guidelines,” he told reporters at a Chinese New Year gathering at San Yoke Secondary School here Saturday. “But I want it (the guidelines) as soon as possible,” he added. Chan said the guidelines would include training modules for tow truck drivers, registration and categorisation of licences and permits. He was responding to numerous public complaints on the conduct of tow truck operators which included exorbitant towing charges and towing vehicles without their owners’ consent.

Abandoned and smuggled cars ending up in Thailand
19 February 2005, By The Star

KANGAR: The Thai Padang Bazaar Customs is holding a big auction for 270 Malaysian cars this weekend. The auction reflects the high number of Malaysian-registered vehicles being smuggled, stolen, or abandoned across the border. The Thai authorities seized these vehicles over the last three years and for this week’s auction, those interested can obtain more information at their website www.padangcustom.com/used-cars.htm. The vehicles range from compact Kancils to luxury BMWs. It has stumped the authorities how some of these vehicles could have passed through the border without the necessary documents. Some of the vehicles were believed to be stolen before being smuggled into Thailand and subsequently seized by the authorities there. Some were abandoned by owners who could not continue servicing their hire purchase loans while others were seized after the drivers were found to be involved in disreputable activities. A Malaysian liaison police spokesman said it was likely that syndicates were involved in some of the cases but to date, no successful method had been found to curtail their activities. “Our country does not export vehicles to Thailand but there is this large number of Malaysian-registered vehicles there. This is cause for concern,” the Songkhla-based spokesman said. He said the standard requirement for vehicles entering Thailand was for the driver to declare to the Thai customs by furnishing a copy of the vehicle’s grant or registration card issued by the Malaysian Road Transport Department. “Drivers must then purchase Thai insurance for the duration their vehicles would be in that country,” he said. A Malaysian consulate-general spokesman said stricter border management could help curb some of the problems. He also said there should be greater effort by both sides to prevent the smuggling or abandoning of Malaysian vehicles in Thailand.

Eight Per Cent Rise In Chinese New Year Road Accident Deaths
17 February 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 (Bernama) — A total of 188 people died on the road during the 15-day “Ops Sikap VIII” Chinese New Year traffic operation that ended Wednesday, an eight per cent increase compared to 174 deaths for the same period last year. National traffic chief Datuk Gingkoi Seman Pancras said 11,462 accidents were reported from Feb 2-16. “Motorcyclists accounted for the highest number of deaths with 100 followed by 55 who travelled in cars,” he told Bernama Thursday. The total number of accidents, however, was 0.2 per cent lower than the figure recorded last year, he added. He said 844 accidents occurred on expressways, 2,843 on federal roads and 2,030 on state roads. Most of the accidents were caused by speeding and this fact was underscored by the 163,080 summonses issued by the police during the operation period of which half were for driving beyond the speed limit, he said. Wednesday, the final day of the operation, there were 632 accidents reported and they resulted in nine deaths.

MOTORCYCLE LICENCE: 18 to be a biker
17 February 2005, By New Straits Times

Motorcyclists must be at least 18 years old to have a licence, under a proposal to be submitted to the Transport Ministry next month. The present age limit is 16. The proposal, by the Road Safety Department and Universiti Putra Malaysia Road Safety Research Centre, is aimed at reducing road fatalities. “We need to increase their age. This is the only way to reduce the number of deaths among those below 18,” the centre’s director, Professor Radin Umar, told the New Straits Times today. The Road Transport Department made a similar suggestion last month. Radin said their research showed that raising the age limit could help save the lives of 350 to 400 youths yearly. Last year, almost half the 6,223 road fatalities — 3,088 — were motorcyclists. Radin said another proposal to reduce the number of road deaths was to require local car manufacturers to install air bags in Malaysian-made cars. “Safety belts prevent chest injuries, but sometimes the head is crushed and there is nothing to protect the sudden head movement,” he explained. At present, most cars from the United States, Europe and Japan are fitted with air bags. Radin said another approach was to request the Government for tax exemption on any additional safety features installed in locally-manufactured cars. “If we really want to reduce injury, there is a need to increase safety features in local cars. “We are proposing that the Government provide incentives to car manufacturers so that more safety features will be installed and cars driven by Malaysians would be safer.” Radin has been involved in research on patterns and trends in road accidents in Malaysia for the past 20 years, and has come up with several proposals for the Government. Another important feature he hoped would be considered involves improving the planning of housing estates and road design. “There are too many accidents due to bad planning. Sometimes certain spots of the road are so dangerous and when an accident happens it is not the fault of the driver.” He added that such “blind spots” could have been avoided with proper planning.

Higher death toll puzzle
15 February 2005, By New Straits Times

The police are at a loss. Why, they ask, has there been a significant increase in road crashes and deaths during this year’s Chinese New Year celebration? Yesterday, 21 road deaths were reported. The figure was the highest so far during this year’s operation and equalled the highest figure in a single day recorded last year. A total of 164 people have been killed in the 12 days of Ops Sikap VIII so far, a figure that surpasses that of the same period during Ops Sikap VI (during Chinese New Year 2004). In the first 12 days of Ops Sikap VI, 140 casualties were reported. The same period of Ops Sikap VI also saw 8,796 crashes, while this year’s operation has so far recorded 9,312 accidents. Federal traffic police chief Datuk Gingkoi Seman Pancras said police were unable to explain the increase in accidents and deaths this year. He said a detailed study into the causes of the accidents would have to be undertaken. “If you look at the statistics, more than 50 per cent of the casualties were motorcyclists or pillion riders. That, in my opinion, is where the priority lies. “Most of the fatal accidents also occurred on Federal and state roads and not highways. I believe motorcyclists take big risks weaving in and out of traffic and since traffic on such roads is heavy, accidents will occur,” he said. Of the 164 killed so far, 87 were motorcyclists or pillion riders. Yesterday alone, 13 lost their lives. Of the 9,312 accidents, 3,989 have been on Federal and state roads. This number includes 94 of the 138 fatal accidents recorded so far. Gingkoi said emphasis had always been placed on Federal and state roads, but it appeared that even more traffic policemen needed to be deployed. “This year we had an additional 600 personnel from other departments dispersed among the states to help out in Ops Sikap, but we may need to have even more in the future.” He said the main cause of accidents was speeding. “This is especially so on Federal roads. Drivers and riders speed and lose control of their vehicles, either crashing by themselves or into other vehicles,” he said. Meanwhile, 658 motorists have paid the RM300 on-the- spot fines.

Overloading penalties for small vehicles
7 February 2005, By New Straits Times

Penalties for overloading, currently limited to commercial vehicles, will soon be extended to passenger cars below 1,000cc. The Transport Ministry is studying amendments to the Road Transport Act to ensure drivers do not pack their vehicles with people. This follows recent accidents involving small vehicles with as many as eight people in them where whole families have been wiped out. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said his officers were looking at the amendments and the need for new by-laws. “The public should not be upset with these changes as it is for their safety,” he said. He said the proposed amendments would hinge on the recommendations made in a study on road safety undertaken by both the Road Transport Department and Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Road Safety Research Centre. Among others, the study looked at vehicle types, number of passengers and size of passengers. “The study will be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety for further discussion,” he said. He said the Government was concerned over this matter as overloading was a serious problem. Chan agreed that stricter regulations are needed for the smaller cars as more cars of 1,000cc and below are flooding the market. Besides Perodua’s Kancil, Kelisa and Kenari models, other small cars in the market are Chevrolet’s Spark, Hyundai’s Atos, Fiat’s Panda and Kia’s Picanto. National car-maker Proton Holdings Bhd planned to introduce its one-litre model, or TRM, to replace its Tiara, in the first quarter of this year. Small cars of 1,000cc and below are popular with new buyers as they cost little.

HK-linked luxury car theft syndicate active again
7 February 2005, By New Straits Times

A Hong Kong-Malaysia luxury car smuggling ring which was exposed 16 years ago seems to have been reactivated. It is now trying to move stolen loot into China. This came to light after several stolen luxury cars, worth more than RM1.5 million, were recovered recently in Hong Kong. Several policemen from Hong Kong arrived here recently to exchange information with their local counterparts. Checks revealed the stolen vehicles recovered in Hong Kong were makes like BMW, Mercedes Benz, Toyota Unser and Toyota Camry. Over the past three months, at least five stolen vehicles were recovered but investigators believe this figure could increase as the probe widens. While forged importation and customs clearance documents showed the vehicles arrived from Singapore, investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the stolen vehicles originated from here. Engine and chassis numbers of the stolen vehicles were provided to local police to enable them to check their records. “Interpol is assisting Hong Kong police in their investigations to ascertain how widespread the activities of the car theft-cum-smuggling syndicate are,” a source disclosed. While investigations are still in the initial stages, police are working on the theory that syndicate members had planned for the stolen cars to be taken into China to cater to the rising affluent market in the southern region. In November 2003, police busted a car theft-cum- smuggling syndicate which “exported” more than 300 luxury cars via Port Klang in containers. Some of the containers were tracked to shipyards in Singapore, and police there managed to intercept the cargo before they reached Indonesia’s Batam island and several destinations including New Zealand and Australia. The police operation then led to the recovery of more than 15 stolen vehicles, and numerous arrests. However, the brains behind the syndicate managed to elude the police dragnet and still remains at large. The Hong Kong-Malaysia connection first came to light in 1989 when several Mercedes Benzs reported stolen in the former British colony were recovered here. Checks revealed a used car dealer had imported the vehicles using forged documents and sold them to unsuspecting buyers. Although the stolen vehicles bore different registration numbers when “imported”, the original registration numbers were traced through the cars’ engine and chassis numbers.

Most road accident victims are bikers
7 February 2005, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: About 60% of those killed in road accidents during the first five days of the balik kampung rush were motorcyclists and the authorities are worried that this trend will continue to rise. Federal traffic chief Senior Asst Comm II Datuk Gingkoi Seman Pancras pointed out that on Saturday alone, 11 out of 17 killed in road accidents were those riding motorcycles. He feels that the riders are not paying attention to the authorities’ safety campaign targeted at them. “Motorcyclists must realise that they are vulnerable to accidents if they are not careful on the roads,” he said, adding that out of the 50 people killed during the five-day period, 30 were motorcyclists. “The next time you are on a motorcycle, please remember to fasten your helmet and also don’t weave in and out of traffic. “Although the overall number of deaths so far has shown a reduction compared with the same period under Ops Sikap VII previously, I want to remind motorists to remain alert and get enough sleep before they start their journey,” he said. So far there were 3,281 accidents nationwide and SAC Gingkoi said most of them occurred between 4pm and midnight. He added that during the same period, police had issued 42,346 summonses and notices to motorists for various traffic offences. SAC Gingkoi said at any one time there would be about 2,500 to 3,000 personnel deployed throughout the country. “We also have deployed 78 General Operations Force personnel to man the highways and additional staff to monitor the trunk and state roads.” He said police expected traffic on the major highways to be heavy over the next few days. Meanwhile, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Mohamed Isa Abdul Samad told Bernama that only 15% of children riding pillion on motorcycles in Kuala Lumpur wore crash helmets. “That is the scary finding of a study by the Road Safety Research Centre of Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).” Isa said only 85% of motorcyclists and 75% of pillion riders in the city wore helmets while on the roads. “The study also showed that in housing areas, only 60% of motorcyclists and less than 40% of pillion riders wear helmets,” he said when launching a crash helmet wearing campaign at Sri Perak public housing estate in the city yesterday.

Citigroup sale spells end of bank-insurer combination
2 February 2005, By The Star

NEW YORK: Nearly seven years after Citigroup Inc defied US law by merging bank, insurance and brokerage businesses under one red umbrella, the financial giant is conceding that the combination was not such a great idea after all. Citigroup agreed on Monday to sell most of Travelers Life & Annuity to MetLife Inc for US$11.5bil in cash and stock, ending its involvement in the underwriting of insurance policies. The reason, Citigroup officials and analysts said, was that insurance was less profitable and grew more slowly than other financial businesses. “Insurance in general is a lower (return-on-equity) business than banking. No matter how you slice it, it never musters the same power,” said Sandler O’Neill & Partners strategist Robert Albertson. In 1999, the US Congress overhauled Depression-era laws that built walls between banking, insurance and brokerage. The changes came a year after Sandy Weill’s Travelers Group Inc, which had insurance and brokerage and capital markets businesses, merged with global commercial banking giant Citicorp, essentially forcing lawmakers’ hands. The deal was expected to trigger a wave of bank-insurance combinations, creating more European-style “universal” banks with insurance, brokerage and banking under one roof. A number of small and regional banks bought insurance agencies, but no big US banks ever followed Citigroup’s lead in diving into the underwriting business. “Citi found that it was unnecessary. The business combination didn’t work out the way they expected,” said Dick Bove, banking analyst at Punk, Ziegel & Co. Citigroup spun off 90% of Travelers Property Casualty Corp two years ago. With the MetLife deal, about all that remains of Travelers at Citigroup is the red umbrella logo. Analysts said that Citigroup’s plan to offer “one-stop shopping” for financial services to its millions of banking customers, a core premise for the merger, did not pan out. Companies and consumers continued to buy insurance through agents or direct sales. “There were not as many cross-selling opportunities for banks as originally anticipated,” said Andrew Collins, a banking analyst with Piper Jaffrey. Citigroup has had to set aside billions of dollars to support its insurance activities, hurting overall returns. Without insurance, analysts said, the company would generate more earnings growth and higher profit margins and command a higher stock price.

White Collar Crimes Result In RM836.2 Million Losses
26 January 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 (Bernama) — White collar crimes accounted for RM836.2 million in losses to individuals, companies and government agencies last year. Bukit Aman Director of the Commercial Crimes Department Datuk Hairuddin Mohamed said 9,899 cases were reported last year ranging from fraud, breach of trust, falsifying of documents and credit card fraud. “Although the number of white collar crimes dropped by 1,815 cases compared to the same period in 2003, the amount involved was substantially more,” he told Bernama here. He said that in 2003, the department received reports on 11,714 cases with losses amounting to RM579.8 million. “A total of 4,161 fraud cases involving individuals and companies were reported involving RM475,041,657 compared to 4,128 cases with total value of RM315,949,670 in 2003,” he said. Hairuddin said there were 1,931 breach of trust cases totalling RM342.8 million against 1,720 cases involving RM228 million in 2003. He said that among the states which registered the most number of white collar crimes last year was Selangor (2,036), followed by Johor (1,501), Kuala Lumpur (1,104), Sarawak (838), Sabah (743) and Perak (649).

Bank Negara launches Financial Mediation Bureau
21 January 2005, By Business Times

The Banking Mediation Bureau (BMB) and the Insurance Mediation Bureau (IMB) have been merged into a single entity called the Financial Mediation Bureau (FMB). The merger comes in the wake of the blurring of lines between services offered by banks, insurance companies and other financial intermediaries. Besides the areas previously covered by the two bureaus, the FMB has been given a wider scope to also cover Islamic banking, takaful, development finance institutions, selected payment system operators and non-bank issuers of credit and charge cards. Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, who launched the FMB in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, said the limit in cases falling within the bureau’s jurisdiction has been increased to allow more people to have access to it for mediation. For banking and other financial institutions, the FMB handles complaints, disputes or claims not exceeding RM100,000 relating to personal and housing loans, automated teller machines (ATMs), cash deposit machines, credit and charge cards, hire purchase, savings accounts, fixed deposits, general, special and specific investment accounts, remittances, and electronic and Internet banking. For fraud cases involving payment instruments, credit cards, charge cards, ATM cards and cheques, the limit is RM25,000. For insurance and takaful, the FMB handles cases with claims not exceeding RM200,000 for motor and fire insurance, not exceeding RM5,000 for third party property damage, and not exceeding RM100,000 for others. Apart from the expanded coverage, Zeti said, the FMB plans to improve its nation-wide accessibility by progressively establishing five regional offices. Incorporated on August 30 last year, the FMB is governed by a board of directors comprising nine members, of whom five are independent directors, with the balance from the banking and insurance industries.

Mechanics must be certified, says Fong
10 January 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Car mechanics should be certified by the National Vocational Training Council under the Human Resources Ministry before they are allowed to work on vehicles, said Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn. He said changes to the laws and regulations governing the motor industry would make it difficult for uncertified mechanics to service luxury cars or those using sophisticated technology. “A motor mechanic who learnt his trade through a mentor may no longer be allowed to handle cars like Mercedes and BMW. “Carmakers and the insurance industry may not recognise his work,” he told reporters yesterday after opening the Federal Territory and Selangor Automobile Repairers Association’s new three-storey building in Cheras here. The association, established 28 years ago, has more than 500 members. Most of its members are major operators with one-stop centres that provide services ranging from maintenance and bodywork to assistance with insurance claims. The association’s deputy chairman, Datuk Ho Yoon Ping, said there were some 2,000 car mechanics in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor who were not certified. “Most of them are mechanics who operate at workshops in shoplots or sometimes under a tree, and many of them only provide one type of service like maintenance of one car part,” he said. With the new building, he added, the association would now have ample space to run certified training courses together with the council.

9 more banks impose Puspakom ruling
7 January 2005, By Business Times

ANOTHER nine banks and finance companies have made it compulsory for used cars to be checked at the Puspakom computerised vehicle inspection centre to ensure their roadworthiness and legal status before loans for their purchases are approved. This brings to 15 the total number of financial institutions making such inspections mandatory. Puspakom parent company DRB-HICOM Bhd chairman Tan Sri Mohd Saleh Sulong said the inspection outfit is expected to handle 250,000 used cars a year from the tie-ups. “Puspakom inspected a total of 91,243 units of commercial and private vehicles in 2003. In 2004, the number increased threefold to 286,193 units,” Saleh said. Public Bank Bhd, RHB Delta Finance Bhd, Hong Leong Bank Bhd and Bank Islam Malaysia were among those who signed for the scheme with Puspakom yesterday. Others were Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd, Amanah International Finance Bhd, Alliance Bank Bhd and Bank Simpanan Nasional. Puspakom in June last year sealed similar pacts with AmFinance Bhd, Mayban Finance Bhd, Bumiputra-Commerce Finance Bhd, Affin-ACF Finance Bhd, Southern Finance Bhd and EON Finance Bhd. The mandatory inspection now forms part of the sale and purchase agreement. Before this, only commercial vehicles needed the Puspakom stamp of approval before they can operate, while the inspection of private cars is voluntary. The inspection may help reduce sales of stolen and joint cars, Saleh said at the signing ceremony yesterday. It also helps used-car dealers improve sales figures as Puspakom’s certification will give credibility to their business. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal said the number of stolen vehicles rose 19 per cent to 19,906 units in 2003. Puspakom inspected 178,707 vehicles from March 2004 to December 2004. Saleh said Puspakom found 1,284 vehicles with discrepancies of which 917 were half-cut cars, 162 with altered chassis numbers and 205 had engine numbers tampered with. The company is allocating an express lane for the finance companies’ appointed dealers to ensure that vehicle inspection for each car is completed within an hour, he added.

INSURANCE INDUSTRY OFFERS SUPPORT
31 December 2004, By PIAM

Kuala Lumpur, December 31 – In support of the victims of the tsunami tragedy, Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM) donated RM200,000 to the “Malaysian Tsunami Disaster Fund” on behalf of its member companies. Meanwhile, member companies of the Association are also making their own separate donations to this and other funds set up to aid the tsunami victims. PIAM had on Monday, expressed its sadness over the mounting death toll and devastation caused by the earthquake, which triggered the tsunami that hit vast areas of the Indian Ocean and our own shores. The Association offers its deepest sympathies and condolences to the victims, their families and friends of this tragedy and hopes for the safe return of those that have been listed as missing. ==end==

MOTORISTS TO BENEFIT FROM JPJ e-INSURANCE
27 December 2004, By PIAM

Kuala Lumpur, December 27 – With effect from 1st January 2005, motorists will be the main beneficiary of the JPJ’s e-Insurance Project, an IT-based service that was launched on 5th October 2004 by the Minister of Transport with the full support of the JPJ, general insurers and takaful operators. The e-Insurance services enable insurance companies to key in their policyholders’ motor insurance details and transmit them electronically to JPJ’s computer database for processing. Since the launch in October, all motor insurers in Malaysia have been linked to the JPJ computer system via electronic gateways operated by three gateway providers. Over the last two months, insurers have been expanding their computer linkages to their agents in order to take full advantage of the e-Insurance service to expedite issuance of motor insurance cover at point of sale and the subsequent transmission of the insurance details to the JPJ. Under e-Insurance, once the motor insurance has been purchased and details transmitted, the insured can go to the JPJ to renew his road tax without any hassles as the insurance details are already captured on the JPJ computers. From 2005 onwards, the JPJ has decided that all insurance information must be transmitted to its computer system via the e-Insurance service only and physical motor cover notes will no longer be accepted by the JPJ.. With full implementation of e-Insurance, problems such as long queues at the JPJ counters will be minimized as keying in and verification of insurance details will be eliminated thereby shortening waiting times at the JPJ counters. Furthermore, reducing the need for repetitive capture of data will also ensure accuracy and consistency of data in JPJ’s database. Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia’s (PIAM) Executive Director Lim Chia Fook said that for insurance companies, the elimination of physical motor cover notes will help resolve the problems of forged cover notes as well as reduce document inventory. “E-Insurance has served as a strong impetus for insurers who have yet to take full advantage of information and communications technology (ICT) to fast-track their ICT development plans to remain competitive in the market as well as to provide efficient services to their customers,” said Lim. With the new year, the customary rush to purchase new cars or replace old ones will see an increase in demand for insurance cover for road tax renewals as well as the registration of new cars. PIAM’s advice to motorists to ensure a hassle-free insurance and road tax renewal process are: • RENEW your motor insurance early through your insurance agent, nearest insurance branch office or at selected Pos Malaysia offices; • ALWAYS request for a receipt as record of payment of premiums for the motor insurance; • To ensure that the data captured for the e-Insurance transmission is accurate and consistent with the JPJ’s records, motorists should provide a copy of their vehicle registration card to their insurance representatives to verify the details to be transmitted to JPJ; • Motorists should obtain confirmation from their insurance representatives that their motor insurance is one that is transacted under the e-Insurance scheme and that the insurance details have been transmitted electronically to JPJ. • From 1st January 2005, the JPJ has decided that all insurance information must be transmitted to them via the e-Insurance service only and physical motor cover notes will no longer be accepted by the JPJ thereafter. • Motorists in more remote or rural areas, who may face difficulties in purchasing motor insurance may wish to consider purchasing their motor insurance from selected Pos Malaysia offices that are also authorized to renew road tax for motorists on behalf of the JPJ.

Eleven Traffic Policemen Including An Officer Detained For Graft
17 November 2004, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR,– Eleven traffic policemen, including an Inspector, from the Bukit Aman Traffic division were detained for allegedly taking bribes from motorists who had committed traffic offences during a road block at the Karak Highway recently. The policemen were detained after investigations by the Bukit Aman disciplinary department following a public tip-off. Deputy Home Minister Datuk Noh Omar today confirmed the arrest after visiting traffic policemen Kpl Roslan Maazin, 38, who was injured in a road accident, at the University Kebangsaan Malaysia hospital (HUKM) Wednesday. He said all the policemen were suspended from their duty pending further action. He said the Home Ministry did not condone the actions of this small group of policemen who continued to tarnish the image of the force. “They (policemen) should realise that their action has serious repercussion as there are many police officers who are highly dedicated to their duty with some of them willing to sacrifice their lives to uphold the dignity of the force,” he added. Noh however declined to divulge further details on the 11 traffic policemen saying that the matter was being handled by the police headquarters. The deputy minister urged the public to contact the disciplinary department of the force or other senior officers at the state if traffic policemen demanded bribes. “We are serious in this matter and at the same time we also hope more policemen will detain errant motorists who attempt to offer money to stop officers from taking action against them,” he added. On another matter, Noh said since year 2000 nine traffic policemen were killed and 134 injured while on duty. Noh said latest case, involving Kpl Roslan on Monday at Karak Highway, was another example where a reckless driver almost killed a policeman when he was directing traffic following a minor accident.

Pak Lah orders crackdown on bad driving
10 November 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has ordered that tougher measures be taken to improve road safety and to reduce traffic accident fatalities. He outlined four steps which he said could do this. The measures which must be enforced all-year round are: ·POLICE setting up watchtowers at regular intervals along major roads and highways to enable them to make their presence felt and for surveillance; ·ISSUING summonses and implementing the Kejara demerit system strictly; ·REVOKING the permits of commercial vehicles whose drivers are involved in accidents and committing offences; and ·HAVING police patrol cars travel at the speed limit and summoning vehicles which overtake them. Concerned with the daily average of 866 road accidents and 17 deaths recorded from January to September this year, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told the police, Road Transport Department (JPJ) and the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) to get errant drivers off the road to discipline them. “They (bad drivers) have no respect for traffic rules and regulations. Their attitude is very bad and the numerous road safety campaigns have not changed their attitude,” Abdullah told reporters after a briefing on the road traffic safety situation at Bukit Aman here yesterday. The Prime Minister was initially scheduled to attend a 25-minute road safety briefing at the federal police headquarters. He, however, was there for about three hours and later announced the tough measures and also ordered the police, JPJ, CVLB and Transport Ministry to take immediate steps to reduce road accidents and fatalities. Responding to the Prime Minister’s call, the JPJ, CVLB, federal traffic police and Transport Ministry officers held an emergency meeting in Putrajaya in the afternoon to prepare a Cabinet paper on ways to reduce road fatalities. The paper will be tabled by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy at the Cabinet meeting today. It is learnt that some of the proposals are so drastic, that if accepted, will change the behaviour of motorists on the road. The Prime Minister’s call for tougher measures contrasted with his approach last year when he advised road users to be careful when travelling back home during the festive season. However, the number of road accidents and fatalities still increased, with 216 deaths and 9,655 accidents recorded over a 10-day period before and after the Hari Raya celebrations. Abdullah also directed the CVLB to permanently cancel permits of public and commercial vehicles involved in accidents. “They cannot give any more excuses that their drivers are the culprits and that they should not be penalised,” he said, adding that permit holders had to ensure that their drivers were careful on the road.

Automatic suspension for drivers in accidents
8 November 2004, By New Straits Times

Drivers who get into accidents may have their licences automatically suspended for two weeks — even if they are not at fault. This proposal, the toughest yet, was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who is clearly frustrated and tired of pleading with and advising people to drive more carefully. “Appeals to road users to drive carefully have fallen on deaf ears,” he said, explaining why tough measures were needed. “We can’t be kind and give gentle advice because it doesn’t work,” he added. The Prime Minister said if people did not behave themselves behind the wheels, they had to face the consequences. Under the proposal, which is being studied, those who report accidents will have their driving licences retained by the police. They can only claim their licences two weeks later and upon paying a fine. Speaking at the launch of the Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri road safety campaign at KL Sentral Station, here, today, Abdullah said the Government had to be tough on people who caused accidents. “If the accidents are fatal, harsher penalties await the guilty,” he added. He said the Cabinet had been briefed on the issue and ministers agreed with the proposal. He said they wanted it implemented as soon as possible. Abdullah said he had informed Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar and the Attorney-General (Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail) on the proposal and had requested that all legal implications be looked into. In his speech, Abdullah said the licence should be seized and held for two weeks by the police in the district where the accident occurred. “If the accident occurred in Taiping, your licence will be held there. And if you are living in Johor, it is just too bad. “If you do not come to collect (the licence), you cannot drive without a licence as it is another offence,” he said, adding that these offenders would not be able to apply for a new licence. He said it was shameful that the country recorded such a high number of road accidents, caused mainly by careless and reckless drivers. “We are proud of our Petronas Twin Towers … we are proud of other achievements but this is one area Malaysia cannot be proud of. “We have a world-class road network which is wide and extensive, but we continue to drive in a shameful manner. “I am advising you, I am pleading with you to be careful. I hope you will not make me cry. I am not going overboard in giving advice to road users … the statistics are too high.” On a proposal by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye that drivers and riders who have undergone training courses on defensive driving be allowed to pay less insurance premium for their vehicles, he said it was a good idea as it was a form of incentive. “What is important is that these drivers, with their knowledge on defensive driving, must have a positive attitude on the road,” he added. Themed Usage of Public Transportation Reduces Accidents, the campaign encourages road users to take public transport to return to their hometowns for the festivities to reduce the risk of road accidents.

PM Proposes Seizing Licences Of Drivers Who Cause Accidents
7 November 2004, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR,– Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has proposed that the licences of drivers who cause road accidents be seized and held for 14 days by the police in the district where the accidents happened. He said this measure was to provide a lesson to the drivers who would be compelled to return to that district to retrieve their licences as well as pay the required fines. “I have spoken about the proposal to the Cabinet and my colleagues also believe it is a good idea that should be implemented as soon as possible,” he told reporters after launching the Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri road safety campaign here Sunday. Abdullah said the proposal had been submitted to the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar and Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail for a detailed study. In his speech, Abdullah said the proposal to seize driving licences was among stronger measures that the government would consider if the number of road accidents continued to rise, especially those that caused death. “All this is so unnecessary but we have to be tough if people don’t want to behave. We are not going to go easy on them if they commit an offence on the road. “If the accidents cause death, harsher actions would be taken,” he said. He said the government and other authorities every year reminded and advised road users to drive with care, particularly during festive seasons, but the advice was obviously ineffective. “Gentle advice didn’t work, so we have to make it difficult for them,” he said. Abdullah said his proposal would include punishing drivers who delayed retrieving their seized licences from the police. “Don’t even think to drive without a licence,” he warned. He said he was ashamed of the country’s road accident statistics, espcially the number of fatalities, which ranked among the worst in the world. “We are proud of Petronas Twin Towers, which is the tallest in the world, and we are proud of other achievements but this (the accident rate) is one subject Malaysia cannot be proud of. “We have built a world class road network, wide and extensive, but we continue to drive in a shameful manner,” he said. Abdullah said accidents could be prevented if everyone at every level adopted a considerate attitude and not depend wholly on the government and the authorities to take action. “We must make it our commitment to significantly reduce road accidents. It’s a simple declaration to ourselves. Just say I want to be safe on the road. “I’m advising you, I’m pleading with you, be careful. I hope you would not make me cry,” he said.

Minimum Age For Motorcyclist Licence To Be Raised, Says Chan
7 November 2004, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR,– The minimum age for a motorcyclist licence will soon be raised from the current 16 years old, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said. “Maybe it will be 17 or 18 years old before one can apply for a motorcyclist’s licence, but that will depend on a study by a group of experts on road accidents that will be submitted to the government very soon,” he said. Chan said that the change was being made as the government was of the view that as a 16-year-old motorcyclist, the teenager might not be mature and responsible enough to handle the machine. He was speaking to reporters after launching the Anti-Crime Campaign jointly organised by the MCA and Persekutuan Persatuan I-Kuan Tao Malaysia, a religious group, here Sunday. Chan said that out of the 6,200 deaths caused by road accidents last year, 57 per cent involved young motorcyclists. On whether the government would impose age limit for elderly drivers, Chan said that nothing would change as the government believed they were more mature drivers.

CID director: Return seized vehicles to owners
7 October 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Police stations throughout the country will now no longer be dumping grounds for motor vehicles seized by the police as evidence in crime and left to rot there for months and even years. Datuk Musa Hassan, who has busted some big-time crime syndicates and cracked the whip against cops for inaction against criminal activities in certain areas since he took over as Criminal Investigation Department director in March, has issued a directive to police stations to return such vehicles to their rightful owners pending the disposal of cases involving the vehicles. Musa told Bernama in an interview at his office in Bukit Aman here yesterday that only vehicles used in serious crime like drug trafficking would, however, be retained by the police and disposed of after the court cases were completed. “For the other cases, the police need only to use pictures or visuals of the vehicles as evidence in court. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, these vehicles can be returned to the owners subject to certain conditions that they do not dispose of or modify the vehicles and that they produce them back in court when needed,” he said. Musa also said the police would dispose of the vehicles if the owners did not claim them after three months. “We just can’t leave them rotting like that where at most police stations we need a big area to store the vehicles and many that were seized as long as 10 years ago were still being kept,” he added. Musa said disposing of the unclaimed vehicles would also bring additional revenue for the Government while getting rid of an eyesore at police stations. The CID director said recovered goods that could become obsolete if kept for a long time like microchips could also be returned to their rightful owners after photographs and visuals of the items were taken. “This is because we have to show to the court later that proper identification had been done and I think this should not be a big problem,” he said. Musa said this could also be done in cases involving perishable goods.

New department to help reduce road deaths
7 October 2004, By The Star

PUTRAJAYA: A new department – the Road Safety Department (JKJR) – will be set up soon to tackle the high number of road accidents and fatalities. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said a director-general would be appointed and the department, to be based here, would have 23 staff with administration, engineering, research and road safety backgrounds. The JKJR, which will come under the Transport Ministry, will have three main functions: # TO reduce road accidents, injuries and deaths involving road users as well as damage to property to a minimum level on par with developed nations, # TO carry out research and development as an input to road safety programmes and activities, and # TO co-ordinate road safety actions by instilling awareness among road users on the need to be civil as well as co-ordinating repair works to infrastructure in areas where there are frequent accidents. Speaking to reporters after presenting excellent service awards to the ministry’s staff here, Chan said JKJR would also have offices at the state level. “Road safety programmes are currently fragmented. There is no department fully responsible for them and we don’t have full-time officers dealing entirely on road safety,” he said. Chan said the Road Safety Council would be absorbed into JKJR, whose scope of work would not overlap that of the Road Transport Department. He also said the Government wanted to reduce the number of road accidents and the fatality rate from the current 4.9 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. “The rates are still high. We used to have 8.5 deaths but after Government intervention in the mid 90s, the figure came down. It has to be below two, like in advanced countries,” he added. The move to set up JKJR has been lauded by various quarters. Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations president Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan hoped the department would take more effective steps to reduce road accidents. “For example, rather than merely warning motorists of danger stretches by using signboards, the authorities must make the stretches safe,” he added. Malaysia Institute of Transport director Assoc Prof Mohamad Arshad Zainuddin said the department would have more resources to enhance road safety activities since it would be under the ministry. Safety Driving Centre managing director C.T. Balan said the setting-up of the department was long overdue.

New Department To Oversee Road Safety, Reduce Accidents
6 October 2004, By BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 6 (Bernama) — Horrendous accidents still occurring on Malaysian roads have prompted the government to set up a new department under the Transport Ministry soon to oversee road safety issues and reduce the number of accidents, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Wednesday. He said the government had given the green light for the creation of the Road Safety Department which would be headquartered here. He said the new department would be headed by a director-general and manned by 23 administrative, research and planning officers from the engineering, health and road safety fields. “It will be operational when we can fill up the posts with suitable people,” he told reporters after presenting excellence service awards to 22 ministry staff, here. Chan said the department was modelled after similar road safety bodies in advanced countries like Australia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. Chan said the department would eventually have offices in all states. The department’s main functions as announced by the minister are: * Reduce accident rate, casualties and fatalities of road users and damage to properties due to accidents to minimum level and on par with advanced countries; * Carry out research and development as an input to road safety policies, programmes and activities; * Boost road users’ awareness level through educational campaigns on the importance of road safety and defensive driving culture; * Coordinate infrastructure repair work, particularly at accident-prone areas. Chan said even though the number of road accidents in the country had been reduced over the years, the government felt more could be done to bring the figure down further. He said Malaysia currently records 4.9 deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles, compared to between one and two deaths per 10,000 motor vehicles in advanced countries. “Our figure used to be between 8.5 and 8.7 but after the government intervened in the mid-90’s, it has gone down to 4.9, but we are still not happy,” he said. To a question, Chan said the duty of enforcing traffic rules and regulations would still be under the Road Transport Department and the police. Nevertheless, he said, the new department would work with the two agencies in ensuring safety on the nation’s roads.

E-insurance to wipe out cover note fraud
6 October 2004, By The Star

SEREMBAN: The long-standing problem of forged cover notes will be resolved now that the e-insurance application has come into operation, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said. In acknowledging that the problem is quite serious, Chan said the Road Transport Department (JPJ) and Bank Negara Malaysia had been receiving several complaints of insurance frauds every week. “The system, which will start today, will wipe out unlicensed agents who issue forged insurance cover notes to deceive the public,” he said after launching the application at the state JPJ headquarters here yesterday. He added that it was not necessary to produce a cover note to renew licences at JPJ counters as the information would be available online. JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir, who was also present at the launching, said the department had been testing the application since July 2001 and some 300,000 transactions were conducted without any hitches. He said the department had decided to honour cover notes until the end of the year to prevent any unforeseen circumstances or in case of a system failure. He also urged the people to be wary of unlicensed agents offering them discounted insurance during the transitional period. Chan noted that the e-insurance application would also help to address the problem of long queues and that it would not burden the people with additional cost. Three firms – Reward-Link. Com Sdn Bhd, PDX.Com Sdn Bhd and Financial Link Sdn Bhd – have been appointed as the service provider to channel information from 40 insurance firms to JPJ.

JPJ eInsurans Facilitates Vehicle Registration And Licence Renewal
5 October 2004, By BERNAMA

SEREMBAN — The launch of the “JPJ eInsurans” Tuesday will facilitate and speed up the registration of vehicles and renewal of Motor Vehicle Licences (LKM) without the need to produce insurance cover notes. Through the JPJ eInsurans, all information on insurance coverage would be channelled electronically by the insurance companies to the Road Transport Department (JPJ). “This system was developed to ensure integrity, accuracy and correctness of the information given, besides addressing the problems of forgery of insurance cover notes,” Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy told reporters after launching the JPJ eInsurans at the Negeri Sembilan JPJ office, here. For this purpose, he said, the government had appointed three companies namely Financial Link Sdn Bhd, PDX.com Sdn Bhd and Reward-Line.com Sdn Bhd, as the “gateway providers” between the JPJ and the insurance companies. He said the “JPJ eInsurans” would be implemented fully from Jan 1, 2005. As such, Chan said, the JPJ would continue to accept applications manually whereby the Insurance companies must issue insurance cover notes to their customers throughout the trial period until Dec 31. Earlier, Chan witnessed the agreement signing ceremony between the three gateway providers and the JPJ.

ROAD SAFETY: RESPONSIBILITY OF EVERY MOTORIST
17 September 2004, By PIAM

KUALA LUMPUR, September 17 – The Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM) believes that the number of road accidents on our roads could be reduced if every motorist drives responsibly and places a high priority on road safety. More so now that the local car population has grown significantly, from 3.3 million private cars in 1997 to over 5.4 million private cars last year. In tandem with this, the numbers of road accidents had also increased, jumping from 215,632 cases in 1997 to 298,653 cases as of end of 2003. “Although motorization and urbanization are escalating in Malaysia, but road safety awareness among the road users is still lagging behind with many drivers still having poor driving attitudes.” said Anuar Mohd Hassan, Chairman of PIAM. He said this at the launch of PIAM’s car sticker giveaway event at the Sungai Besi tollgate today. Officiating the event was Dato’ Haji Emran bin Hj Kadir, JPJ’s Director General. “The time has come for motorists to change their prevailing mindsets, and recognise the need to take care on the road, in whatever capacity they use it.” Anuar added. The high incidents of fatalities on our Malaysian roads are also of concern. In the last three years, for instance, more than 15,000 people have been killed and another 20,811 people injured and maimed on Malaysian roads. The high number of deaths represents a very high rate of 5 deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles compared to 2 deaths per 10,000 vehicles in countries like Finland, Germany, Japan and the United States. He added that the general insurance companies were paying out about RM6 million daily for injuries and property damage due to road accidents. Unfortunately, the sufferings of road accident victims and their loved ones were impossible to quantify. He also expressed concern over the disparity in the numbers of JPJ-registered vehicles and the number of motor insurance policies issued. In 2003, only 4.6 million private car insurance policies were issued compared to more than 5.4 million private cars registered with JPJ. He said the disparity for motorcycles was even higher with only about 2.7 million motorcycle policies issued last year compared with the estimated 6.2 million motor-cycles registered with JPJ. Anuar reminded motorists that insurance is meant to protect other road users as well as to protect oneself against claims from the injured parties. In response to the government ‘s call for the installation of air-bags and anti-lock braking systems as additional standard safety features in cars, Anuar said the general insurance industry certainly welcomes the move and supports the use of additional safety devices to protect motorists during an accident. “The new safety features should be incorporated as an integral part of the car safety standards as they have been proven to reduce the risk of death during an accident,” he added. As indicated by the recent statistics from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of United States, the use of air bags together with seat belts can reduce the risk of death by up to 83 per cent. Themed “Utamakan Keselamatan, Pandu Selamat”, PIAM’s road safety campaign was organized in support of the government’s efforts to build awareness on road safety and to commemorate National Insurance Day 2004. This car sticker giveaway event is the third-phase of the PIAM three-month road safety campaign that targets to promote safe driving among motorists. PIAM is the national association, representing all 42 licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia. For more information, please visit its website at www.piam.org.my.

DOUBLE TROUBLE COURTING MOTORCYCLISTS
26 August 2004, By PIAM

SUNGAI BESI, August 26, 2004 – Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM) has launched phase two of the Think Safety, Drive Safely campaign, focusing on motorcyclists in a move aimed at reducing the high number of motorcyclists killed and injured in road accidents. More lives are lost each year, including last year where 3,548 deaths were recorded. This was a 3.5 per cent increase over 2002. Last year was also the 10th consecutive year in which increase in the death toll among motorcyclists was reported. For the first six months of this year, the Federal Traffic Police reported 1,767 deaths among motorcyclists or over 60 per cent of the total 2,810 deaths due to road accidents. “It is indeed a worrying trend with the escalating number of fatal road accidents involving motorcyclists due largely to lack of road safety knowledge and skills, and plain recklessness in many cases,” said PIAM’s Motor Insurance Convenor, Mohd Yusof Idris at the launch of PIAM’s helmet sticker flag-off campaign at the PLUS Sungai Besi tollgate. He also expressed concern on the disparity of insured motorcycles and the total numbers of JPJ-registered motorcycles in Malaysia – only about 2.7 million motorcycle policies were issued last year compared with the estimated 6.2 million registered with the Road Transport Department. “We have reasons to believe a sizeable number of motorcyclists are not insured and the uninsured riders face the risk of financial hardships in the event of accidents and insurance claims against them. “Although we have taken into consideration that not all JPJ-registered motorcycles are on the roads, the disparity between the registered units and our records is too wide and is of concern to the insurance industry and the government,” added Encik Mohd Yusof. He reminded motorcyclists that third party insurance coverage was compulsory for all motorcycles, including those with engine capacities below 150cc which were exempted from paying road tax. “The onus is on every motorist to ensure they have valid and adequate insurance cover at all times. Insurance should not be purchased just for the purpose of obtaining road tax renewals. “Insurance serves to protect them against insurance claims from other road users who may be injured or killed in road accidents. The uninsured motorcyclists will be personally liable to compensate the third parties,” he added. Encik Mohd Yusof said the reluctance among motorcyclists to wear safety helmets even though this has been required by law since 1973 and wearing them correctly were the main contributing factors for the high rate of head injuries. He noted that the Ministry of Transport had estimated that as many as 1.2 million motorcyclists, mostly in the rural areas, might be riding without helmet protection. According to available statistics from the Transport Ministry, 58.5 per cent of the 3,548 motorcycle fatalities reported in 2003 were caused by head injuries. World Health Organisation had said proper use of helmets could help to reduce the severity of injury by between 20 per cent and 45 per cent. As part of the road safety campaign launched by Federal Traffic Police Chief, Dato’ Gingkoi Seman Pancras, PIAM, with the support of PLUS Expressways Bhd, will distribute reflective helmet stickers at the PLUS recreational and rest areas nationwide and through general insurance companies in Malaysia. The campaign was organised in support of the government’s efforts to build awareness on road safety and to commemorate the National Insurance Day 2004. PIAM is the national association, representing all 44 licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia. For more information, please visit its website at www.piam.org.my.

Think Safety, Drive Safely
27 July 2004, By PIAM

SUNGAI BULOH, July 27, 2004 – Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM) has dedicated today, Insurance Day 2004, to improving road safety by mounting a three-month campaign aimed at educating and instilling understanding among Malaysians on the importance of road safety. “Think Safety, Drive Safely” is the central theme for the road safety campaign, involving a collaborative effort with Plus Expressways Berhad (PLUS) vis-à-vis road safety posters along the North-South Expressway, Elite and Second Link highways and the distribution of stickers to motorists and motorcyclists. The campaign was launched by Transport Minister Dato’ Sri Chan Kong Choy. PIAM, which represents 44 licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia, will also carry out an educational campaign – tips on road safety – with Radio Hitz FM in mid-September. Its Chairman, Anuar Mohd Hassan said the campaign was aimed at serving a constant reminder to Malaysians on safety while on the road and to complement the government’s efforts to check the high rate of road accidents, causing fatalities and injuries in addition to economic losses. Responding to the government’s call for road safety campaigns to be carried out all year round, PIAM has chosen to mount a road safety campaign to celebrate this year’s Insurance Day. “We have decided to continue the worthy tradition (of the Insurance Day) by embarking on a road safety campaign in support of the government’s ongoing initiatives to curb the high incident of accidents on our roads. “The campaign aims to remind motorists to take the necessary preventive measures while on the road,” he added. Encik Anuar said posters of the PIAM Road Safety Campaign would be placed at all PLUS -managed highway recreational and rest areas. Motor vehicle and motorcycle helmet stickers will be also be distributed to motorists and motorcyclists plying the highway during the campaign. Road accidents, causing fatalities and injuries have been identified as one of the leading causes of death worldwide. In Malaysia, more than 24,000 people were killed and over one million accidents were reported between 2000 and 2003. Malaysians general insurers, according to Encik Anuar, have paid out over RM2.4 billion or an average of RM6.6 million daily for injuries and property damage due to road accidents. PIAM is the national trade association of all the licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia. Currently, PIAM has 44 member companies. More information on PIAM can be obtained from its Web site: www.piam.org.my.

Spare parts racket exposed
28 September 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have uncovered a car theft ring that not only steals cars but has its own workshop to take the vehicles apart before selling off the spare parts. Most of the time, the “chop shop” workers, operating from a shop lot in Cheras here, would fit the stolen parts into the vehicles of their regular clients, who are owners of luxury and vintage cars. The clients flock to the workshop as it had proven to be able to “source” for the necessary spare parts, especially for older vehicles. However, it is believed that the clients were not aware that the workshop obtained its supply of “rare” parts from other vehicles stolen around the Klang Valley. Police uncovered the racket with the arrest of at least four men and the recovery of eight cars worth at least RM350,000 in a series of raids over the past few days. All four men, between the ages of 20 and 40, are being detained to assist in investigations. Among the vehicles recovered were a Jaguar, BMW, Proton Satrias, Perodua Kancils and Proton Wajas. City deputy CID Chief Asst Comm Ramli Din confirmed the arrests and recovery of the vehicles. “Some of the cars recovered had already been cannibalised when a police team from the city police headquarters raided the workshop,” he said Police learnt about the racket when they arrested a man in his 40s in Cheras and recovered two stolen cars last week. Subsequently, police raided the workshop and arrested three others, including the workshop owner. Initial investigations showed that the ring, which has been operating for more than a year, operated on a “case-by-case basis” whereby they would first identify the vehicle needed for spare parts before stealing it at night and driving the car to the workshop. Most of the time, the vehicle was parked along the road curb near the workshop. The workers then take the car apart for their spare parts – mainly air-conditioning units, doors, tyres, radio sets, seats and engine parts. Once the vehicle is totally “stripped,” it will be disposed off. A check by The Star on the workshop on Sunday showed that it was closed but there were vehicles parked in front of the shop.

Uninsured drivers face crackdown
11 August 2004, By BBC News

Tough measures to tackle an estimated one million uninsured UK drivers have been unveiled by the government. Uninsured drivers should face having their cars crushed and larger fines, a government- commissioned report has recommended. It also calls on insurers, the police and government agencies to share more data to help catch uninsured motorists. Accidents involving uninsured drivers cost £500m a year, adding £30 to average motor premiums. The report recommends that the insurance industry should develop products to help drive down the costs of insurance for younger drivers, who pay the highest premiums by age group. Professor David Greenaway, of Nottingham University, was asked by the government in 2003 to look at uninsured driving in the UK. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has estimated that one in 20 UK motorists drive without insurance. In addition, recent research from the insurance industry body estimated that one in seven UK motorists have done so at some time in the past. The Greenaway report concludes that uninsured motorists are many times more likely to have been convicted of a drink-driving offence or driving an unsafe vehicle. It calls for harsher punishments, and measures to improve detection. The Department for Transport (DFT) announced prior to publication of the report that it would be giving police the power to seize and, where appropriate, crush vehicles that are being driven by uninsured drivers. Pilot schemes operating in Cumbria and Liverpool have seen police confiscating and crushing hundreds of vehicles owned by uninsured drivers. “We plan to give the police the power to seize and destroy vehicles that are being driven illegally and to increase police powers to use new technology to make detection and enforcement more effective,” said David Jamieson, road safety minister. “The message to the small hard core of anti-social motorists who drive without insurance is clear: uninsured driving is unacceptable.” In addition, the report recommends more severe penalties for non-compliance. According to the ABI, the average fine for driving without insurance is £150. A DFT spokesman told BBC News Online that larger fines and custodial sentences would act to deter those motorists who believe the present punishment regime represents a cheaper option than actually paying for insurance. We need to ensure that anyone who drives understands that they have the means of inflicting serious injury – and that insurance is there to protect other people as well as themselves Mary Francis, Association of British Insurers At present, uninsured drivers are usually detected only when they are physically stopped by the police. Professor Greenaway would like to see the greater use of technology to detect uninsured motorists. The report recommends that police should have access to the Motor Insurance Database (MID) which should be integrated with the national computer system used by the police. In addition, number plate recognition technology could be used to track down uninsured drivers. Motoring groups and insurers welcomed the findings of the Greenaway report. “They will benefit honest motorists and improve safety on our roads,” said Mary Francis, director general of the ABI. “We need to ensure that anyone who drives understands that they have the means of inflicting serious injury – and that insurance is there to protect other people as well as themselves.”

Road Accidents To Be The Third Highest Global Killer By 2020, Says Chan
27 July 2004, By BERNAMA

July 27, 2004 15:14 PM SUNGAI BULOH, July 27 (Bernama) — Road accidents have been projected to be the third highest global killer by 2020, after heart disease and depression, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Tuesday. He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported last year that road accidents were a major public health problem in Asia and the Pacific with some 10 million people severely injured or killed annually in Asia. “The WHO also estimates that if current trends continue, the problem (road accidents) will be the third highest global cause of disease or injury by 2020,” he said in his speech read out by his deputy, Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, at the launch of General Insurance Association of Malaysia’s (PIAM) Road Safety Campaign at Restoran Jejantas here. Present were PIAM chairman Anuar Hassan, his deputy, Hashim Harun, PLUS Expressways Bhd (PLUS) chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Sheriff Mohamed Kasim and PLUS managing director Datuk Idrose Mohamed. “Last year, there were 6,282 fatalities due to road accidents in Malaysia with the highest percentage of deaths involving motorcyclists (50.4 per cent),” said Chan. He said that although last year’s death rate had declined from 8.2 per 10,000 registered vehicles in 1996 to 4.9 per 10,000, the figure was still high if seen from a comparative index of one to two fatalities per 10,000 registered vehicles achieved by developed countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Japan and Australia. “Much more needs to be done if we are to reduce the rate to be at par with the developed countries,” he said, commending the efforts taken by PIAM in organising the campaign. Meanwhile, Anuar said the three-month campaign, themed “Think Safety, Drive Safely”, launched in conjunction with Insurance Day 2004 today, was aimed at educating Malaysians on the importance of road safety. He said posters of the road safety campaign would be placed at all PLUS-managed highway recreational and rest areas. “Further to this road safety poster campaign, we will also be distributing motor vehicle and motorbike helmet stickers to travellers plying the North-South Expressway in the weeks ahead,” he said. PIAM, which represents 44 licensed general insurance companies, will also work with local radio station, Hitz FM, to carry out educational campaigns on road safety tips targeting motorists as they commute to work or drive to their various destinations in September, he said.

Commercial crimes tripled in last 10 years
5 July 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Commercial crime cases tripled in the last 10 years, with criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds forming the bulk of cases. Some RM570mil was involved in the 11,714 cases reported last year, compared to 4,229 cases (involving RM153.8mil) in 1994. Bukit Aman Commercial Crime director Datuk Hairuddin Mohamed said 1998 seemed to be the turning point when the number of cases rose sharply to 10,380 involving RM4.6bil. “The drastic increase in 1998 only goes to show the alarming state of commercial crime in the country. “That was the middle of the economic downturn and the figure reached an all-time high of RM4.6bil compared to RM153.84mil in 1994,” he said at a recent seminar on Fighting Commercial Crimes – International Shipping and Trading Frauds. However, while the number of cases increased each year, the amount of losses dropped to RM579.8mil last year compared to RM1.1bil in 2002, he said. “Commercial crimes manifest along specific patterns closely related to the social and economic conditions and over the last 10 years, there has been an increase in the number of offences being committed,” he said, adding that some committed fraud to keep up their affluent lifestyle or due to greed. “In efforts to combat commercial crime, we have embarked on a broad-based approach, including mutual assistance with regional enforcement agencies in exchange of intelligence and establishing data, networking and smart partnerships. “We are also creating public awareness programmes and adapting to new technologies and laws,” Hairuddin added.

57 stolen vehicles found in Batam
26 June 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Indonesian resort island of Batam well known for its shopping and nightlife among Singaporeans has now become another paradise – for car thieves and its buyers. Their illegal activities were uncovered recently when Malaysian police and their Singaporean counterparts busted a syndicate and recovered 57 luxury vehicles worth an estimated RM20mil from a warehouse on the island. Criminal Investigations Department (CID) director Commissioner Datuk Musa Hassan led a team to Batam Island yesterday where they met their Indonesian counterparts to negotiate for the return of the stolen vehicles. The vehicles that were found in the warehouse were Toyota Harriers and Altis, Honda CRVs and Mitsubishi Storms. Comm Musa told The Star that so far 51 out of the 57 vehicles have been confirmed stolen from Malaysia. “Investigations are still in progress and our Singaporean counterparts are assisting us,” he said Comm Musa said he was confident that the cars would be returned to the Malaysian without any problems as the chassis and engine numbers are all intact and it corresponds with the vehicles reported stolen in Malaysia.

Trio jailed for shipping stolen cars
13 June 2004, By The Straits Times

THREE Singaporean men, who helped to ship stolen luxury cars from Port Klang in Malaysia, through Singapore and on to Batam, were packed off to jail. Brothers Jason Ong Yew Chuan, 32, and Ong Chee Cheong, 33, with cousin Brian Ong Chiu Haur, 25, admitted last month to attempting to receive and helping to dispose of stolen property. The models included Mercedes-Benz C200, Toyota Camry and Toyota Unser. On Friday, Jason was jailed for five years while the other two were jailed for four years each. The trio were directors of Transcargo Service, which dealt in the trucking of containers between ports in Singapore. Chee Cheong and Brian were partners of freight forwarding services company Sin Thong Lee (STL) Logistics. In June last year, the trio agreed to provide trucking and documentation services for the shipment of vehicles through Singapore for a man called Mr Ng Chong How, also known as Yudi. STL was to be used as the consignee of the vehicles. Transcargo was to provide the trucking services for the container, which carried the cars from PSA Port to Jurong Port, to ship to Batam. In August, Yudi told the trio that the vehicles they would be transporting were stolen cars. On Nov 11, Singapore police, after receiving information from their Malaysian counterparts, found the container and later arrested the trio.

Police warned against acting as touts for motor workshops
9 June 2004, By New Straits Times

Ipoh, Tues. – Traffic police have been warned to stop acting as touts or intermediaries for certain workshops catering to road accident cases. State deputy police chief Datuk Kamalul Azmi Darus, in issuing this stern warning today, said disciplinary action would be taken against those involved in such activities. “They (police) must be neutral. Let the victims decide which workshop they want their vehicles to be towed to,” he told reporters after attending a monthly gathering at the state police headquarters here today. The warning came amid complaints from vehicle owners involved in accidents and even some tow truck operators who feel they have been “shortchanged”. Numerous complaints have been received that traffic police, usually among the first to arrive at accident scenes, had been deciding which workshop damaged vehicles should be towed to. A few victims have even said that monetary rewards from workshop operators was the deciding factor in such cases. Kamalul Azmi, while admitting that cases of traffic police allegedly acting as touts for certain workshops were rampant, said the action of these irresponsible personnel had tarnished the image of the police force. “They have already been warned. Stern disciplinary action would be taken now,” he said. In another development, a coroner’s inquest to determine the cause of death has been ordered in the event of detainees dying in police custody. Kamalul Azmi said this directive would be beneficial to the police as it would be held in open court where all parties concerned may witness the proceedings. “We feel that it is not fair to point fingers at the police each time a detainee dies,” he added. At the function, kamalul Azmi also presented commendation letters for outstanding contributions to the force. ==end==

Consumers Told To Be Careful When Buying Used Cars
4 June 2004, By Bernama

SHAH ALAM, June 3 (Bernama) — Used car buyers have been told to be careful and have the cars they are buying inspected by professionals to avoid being cheated by rogue sellers. Inspections must be done before the car was bought to prevent any mishaps from occurring as a result of the car not having the specifications required by law, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohamed Shafie Apdal. “We have noted that of late there are syndicates comprising mechanics and used car dealers who reassemble broken-apart cars to be sold as used cars for profit,” he said after witnessing an agreement signing between Computerised Vehicles Inspection Centre (Puspakom) and six finance companies, here Thursday. The six finance companies are Amfinance Bhd, Mayban Finance Bhd, Bumiputra-Commerce Finance Bhd, Southern Finance Bhd, Affin ACF-Finance Bhd and EON Finance Bhd. Following the agreement, a used car buyer intending to finance the purchase from the six finance companies must send the car to be inspected by Puspakom before the application for loan is approved. The inspection will prevent the buyer from buying a stolen vehicle, a reassembled broken-apart vehicle and a vehicle which has its chassis and engine numbers altered, as well as a vehicle that has had modifications not according to the Road Transport Act 1987. Mohamed Shafie said according to the Federal Territories’ Road Transport Department, 18 illegally reasembled cars were seized in operations between Jan to March 2004 Up to end of 2003, meanwhile, Puspakom had inspected 6,805 vehicles and 172 of them had problems including 79 reassembled broken-apart vehicles, 59 had their chassis number altered and 34 had their engine number changed.

JPJ director-general: ‘100,000 motorists have no licences’
24 May 2004, By The Star

MALACCA: Some 100,000 motorists in the rural areas and estates, most of them elderly, are riding motorcycles without licences and road tax. Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said the long distance between their housing areas and JPJ branches might be the reason that deterred them from getting their licences and road tax done. Citing an example, he noted that the distance from Merlimau to the JPJ office here was 30km and to the Jasin JPJ office some 25km away. “The people are unaware that they will not get any compensation if they get into an accident as their vehicles are not insured and they do not have a licence or road tax,” Emran told reporters after meeting with the people at Merlimau, here on Saturday.

Insurance Claims Hit RM568 Mln Due To Car Thefts
13 May 2004, By Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 (Bernama) — Car thefts continue to be a major challenge for the general insurance industry which incurred almost RM568 million in motor insurance claims in 2003, up by 19 percent over the previous year, according to Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia (PIAM), Thursday. A total of 19,906 cases, including 7,303 private cars were reported stolen to insurance companies last year. Claims for private cars alone amounted to RM489 million, an increase of 17.3 percent over 2002. Proton Wira was the most popular target for car thieves last year with 1,092 cases followed by Toyota Unser (802), Perodua Kancil (484), Proton Waja (478), Proton Iswara (318) while Proton Perdana and Toyota Harrier (271 each). The multi-purpose Toyota Unser was the surprise number one victim in the non-national vehicle segment last year, registering a 764 percent increase last year compared with only 105 units reported stolen in 2002. In a statement Thursday, PIAM executive director, Lim Chia Fook expressed concern over the continuing risk in vehicle thefts which was reflected in the motor insurance claims ratio which increased to 69.2 percent last year from 67.8 percent in 2002. He said PIAM had formulated a strategic motor vehicle anti-theft campaign this year to check the rising motor vehicle thefts and to educate car owners. The strategies will focus on reducing professional vehicle thefts, reducing opportunistic vehicle thefts and enhancing co-operation with relevant parties to ensure effective implementation of these theft reduction measures. “For example, we are encouraging vehicle manufacturers and assemblers to actively support the installation of effective anti-theft devices in new vehicles, including the installation of electronic immobilizers and tracking systems that meet international standards,” he said. “Car thieves are getting more sophisticated these days and our findings showed existing anti-theft devices may not be adequate to protect car owners and must be improved as and when required,” Lim said. Lim noted that a vehicle installed with anti-theft devices stood a much better chance against car thieves than a vehicle without one. Apart from car manufacturers and assemblers, Lim said PIAM continued to work closely with the Police to reduce vehicle thefts and enhance the recovery rate of stolen vehicles domestically and from overseas. “Our concerted efforts have shown some positive results with a number of major successes by the Police in smashing car theft syndicates,” he added. The number of motorcycle thefts reported to insurers declined from 12,201 units to 11,142 units. This reduction of almost nine percent is an encouraging sign to law enforcement agencies and the insurance industry that anti-theft measures are bearing positive results. However, the number of private car thefts increased by almost 17 percent from 6,226 in 2002 to 7,303 units. This represents an average of 20 private cars stolen every day. In the light of the increasing trends in private car thefts, vehicle owners should take extra precautions to protect themselves against vehicle theft. Simple precautionary measures that can be taken including parking vehicles in well-lit places at night, ensuring that the original certificates of motor insurance and registration documents are not left in the vehicles, leaving property in a locked boot, removing ignition keys and closing windows even when leaving the vehicle on a short time, locking all doors when on the move as well as using effective anti-theft devices such as electronic immobilisers. PIAM is the national trade association of all the licensed general insurance companies in Malaysia. Currently, PIAM has 44 member companies.

Forensic labs to help fire department solve cases
7 May 2004, By The Star

KUALA KUBU BARU: The Fire and Rescue Department will be commissioning nine forensic laboratories nationwide to solve the at least 40% of fires classified as “causes unknown” every year. Its director-general Datuk Jaafar Sidek Tambi said at least 10,000 cases were classified as punca tidak diketahui (source of fire unknown) every year as the department lacked the proper know-how to investigate such cases and sought the assistance of the Chemistry Department. “Our laboratories are ready and we will be commissioning them soon. However, we will start with handling simple cases to enable our officers to gain experience,” he said, adding that bigger cases would still be referred to the Chemistry Department. Jaafar said most of the officers who would be involved in laboratory work had a science background and specialised in Chemistry. “We have also sent our officers to England, Japan and America to be trained in fire investigations,” he told reporters at the passing-out parade of some 116 firemen for various fire stations in Sarawak at the department’s academy here yesterday. Jaafar added that the department was also signing a memorandum of understanding with a local university to train its officers in forensic science. He said the department did not face any problems recruiting firemen as they received overwhelming response from youths wanting to join the service every year. “Recently, we got about 25,000 applications to fill up vacancies for 180 officers,” he said. Earlier in his speech, Jaafar urged some 11,000 personnel in the department to take advantage of interest-free loans available to those who wanted to pursue their studies at local institutions of higher learning. “Our welfare fund gives out about RM10,000 to each applicant who wants pursue his studies,” he said, adding that the added qualification would come in handy when applying for promotions

Stolen cars surface in Singapore
2 May 2004, By New Sunday Times

Singapore appears to have once again become a transit point for stolen Malaysian vehicles, especially sports utility vehicles. Over the past few weeks, Malaysian and Singaporean police have recovered stolen cars, mostly SUVs, valued at more than RM3 million. Police had in November busted a syndicate which was believed to have “shipped” RM40 million worth of stolen cars to Singapore. Initial reports made available to insurers show that 19 stolen vehicles recovered recently were mostly SUVs, including Mitsubishi Storm and Toyota Harrier models. Insurance industry sources described the latest discovery as shocking following the success in November. That syndicate was believed to have moved more than 300 stolen SUVs and luxury cars to the island. “Police are trying to find out if those behind that syndicate are back in operation after lying low for several months,” a source said. City deputy Criminal Investigation Department chief (Operations) Assistant Commissioner Syed Ismail Syed Azizan and several others involved in last November’s operation returned from Singapore this week after meeting investigators there. “We have yet to complete the paperwork on the stolen vehicles recovered six months ago,” the source said. Apparently, they have yet to get some of the records of the stolen vehicles from the Road Transport Department here. While investigations continue into the recent recovery, efforts are under way to have the stolen vehicles recovered in Singapore last year returned. “It cannot be ruled out the same individuals are behind the car theftcum-export ring judging from the vehicle models,” said another insurance industry source said. The syndicate busted last November specialised in handling stolen cars much sought after on the international blackmarket, including SUVs and MPVs of various models, and BMWs and Mercedes Benz models. Using “doctored” Customs clearance and vehicle registration documents, the stolen vehicles were transported to Singapore en route to other destinations. Investigators believe the syndicate has contacts across the Causeway who ensure the stolen vehicles are well maintained before being “exported” to other countries, some as far away as southern Africa. Following the operation last November, stolen vehicle statistics for the year dropped by almost 20 per cent when compared with 2002. There were 3,131 motor vehicles reported stolen last year, compared with 3,500 in 2002. Investigators believe the syndicate busted in November was responsible for most thefts. Authorities came to know of Singapore being used as a transit point for stolen Malaysian vehicles in December 1999 when police recovered several vehicles. The following year, a joint Malaysian-Singapore operation led to the recovery of stolen vehicles in Singapore and New Zealand.

Cops find 14 stolen cars in warehouse
15 April 2004, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A warehouse which stores repossessed vehicles belonging to several financial institutions is being investigated after police found 14 stolen cars worth over RM600,000 there on Tuesday. It is learnt that at least four financial institutions were sharing the warehouse, located off Jalan Kuching, to keep their repossessed vehicles. Sentul OCPD Asst Comm A. Thaiveegan confirmed the recovery of the stolen cars but declined to elaborate. Police sources said the warehouse had kept some 1,500 vehicles including luxury cars which were said to have been repossessed by the financial institutions over a period of one year. Acting on a tip-off from the public, a police team from Sentul district headquarters raided the warehouse and picked up three security guards. Among the cars recovered were a Mercedes E230, a BMW, a Volvo and a Honda. The warehouse owner has yet to be picked up by police for questioning.