Of delusional aspirations and rewarding motorists who break traffic laws

There were several takeaways from the 100-day Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia that got people talking – a lot.

Firstly, it was the fact that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, on Thursday, had given his Cabinet an ‘A+’ for its performance over the past 100 days since he took over the top job in Putrajaya.

The reaction from the general public was varied – from incredulity, to sheer, and utter astonishment. Some laughed, some cried, and quite a number of facepalms were shared on social media.

As veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin posted on Facebook: “Sendiri buat soalan. Sendiri invigilate. Sendiri mark kertas periksa. Tak hairan skor 90%.

But what made many cringe was the crowd that flooded the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre on the first day of the event to celebrate this momentous occasion.

Images of a packed hall, with many not observing physical distancing, sparked fears of a possible cluster. These pictures were widely shared by those who attended the four-day event that would end tomorrow.

This, despite National Security Council deputy director-general (Security) Datuk Rodzi Md Saad being quoted as saying that “very strict” standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been prepared for the programme.

It was only yesterday that I received an SMS from GOV, that provided a registration link to those “who wanted to attend the programme”.

The Malaysian Medical Association, a professional organisation not known for its cynicism and for making stinging, scathing rebukes, issued a statement about the event that was loaded with sarcasm, asking if raising the number of Covid-19 cases was also part of the 100-day KPI of Ismail Sabri’s administration.

In response to this breach in SOPs and flagrant disregard for public safety amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Health Ministry slapped the organisers with a fine of RM1,000.

In his statement, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the organisers had “tainted” an event meant to celebrate the government’s achievements, by failing to adhere to the SOPs and guidelines put in place.

Lawmakers too, made themselves heard, hoping there would not be double standards when it came to gatherings for Christmas and Thaipusam. The National Unity Ministry is finalising the SOPs for these religious events.

The aspiration for the government to set a good example earned it a massive ‘F’.

What was equally mindboggling was the 80 per cent discounts offered by the Royal Malaysia Police and Road Transport Department (RTD) to those who had outstanding traffic summonses.

The offer, held as part of the Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia event, created long queues at the same venue.

Did the organisers and police think that if they offered discounts on summonses of up to 80 per cent, that only five Malaysians would turn up? Clearly, no real thought was put into this.

Immediately, the words “cluster saman” popped up in conversations. Those with huge, multiple, outstanding summonses wore big smiles on their faces at the thought of the huge savings offered by the police through this amnesty; Covid-19 be damned.

But this ‘reprieve’ by the police and RTD left law-abiding motorists dumbfounded.

When I tweeted about this on Thursday, senior lawyer Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos replied: “This is the problem when citizens allow politicians to politicise even enforcement.”

Former National Sports Institute director-general Datuk Dr Ramlan Aziz quoted my tweet and said: “It’s clearly perverse. The good and upstanding will never understand, much less accept, something that undermines the ground upon which it stands.”

It is indeed, perverse, especially when upstanding motorists follow traffic rules. And if they ever do get ticketed, they will be the first to pay the fines.

Where’s the incentive for good behaviour?

This other delusional aspiration, of politicising enforcement, deserves an ‘F’, too.