In the post, I thought of pulling out a good conversation between one of our blog reader and Cikgu Yap.
It’s been while and the conversation has been buried deep in the comment column and it is quite difficult to access. There are some valuable information and I’ve decided to bring it into its own post so other readers can find it easily.
When It Is It OK To Turn At A Red Light In Malaysia
Back in 8th September 2014, one of our readers, Mr. Wong wrote in with the following question.
I was at a traffic junction to make a right turn. There is a “green” light followed by a “green arrow” light. Seeing the green light and all clear (for oncoming cars) I made a right turn without waiting for the green arrow.
Police car stopped me and issued a non-compoundable ticket. I have to appear in court. He wrote: “Tidak mematuhi lampu isyarat merah.”
What should I do? Just appear in court? Btw is it a long waiting process in court? Thank you.
The following is the response from Cikgu Yap.
This blog writer has been a driving instructor for more than 40 years. Also, I’ve been a lecturer for the ‘Highway Code’ for over 25 years or so. In reality, I’ve been waiting for such a long time for a question like yours to be asked. Thank you for raising such an interesting question.
Firstly, not all ‘enforcement’ officials, including police officers, are well-versed with the laws. Even, if indeed they are, there remains the possibility of ‘differing’ opinions existing.
Your non-compoundable summons clearly means you have to mandatorily appear in court. And this I believe, is in fast a ‘blessing’ in disguise. You now have the rare opportunity to come face-to-face with a learned judge or ‘hakim’. This blog writer believes, you will be given the correct and ‘fair’ judgement this time around.
Now, let’s come to the question of ‘injustice’, whereby what you did was ‘wrongfully’ adjudged as an OFFENCE by the patrol car officers. My long years in driving tells me that at traffic light junctions that has a ROUND green light, PERMITS a driver to proceed on with his journey (that is to turn right). When in court, and faced with the learned judge/hakim, do not feel afraid. Ask the magistrate or judge, what does ‘green’ in fact indicate? GREEN in reality means ‘go right ahead’. It also means making ‘a right turn as well’, which you indeed correctly made.
Under earlier British traffic rules, which our country followed prior to the days of independence in 1957, however, a driver wishing not to wait for the green arrow to light up before making a turn right must ensure that no on-coming traffic is approaching whilst he makes the turn. Otherwise, he will be making an illegal turn. You categorically stated that the lane ahead was free of traffic, you have made no obstruction at all to on-coming traffic!
When you or your counsel put forward such a ‘premise’ above to the learned hakim/judge, it will without a doubt, create a ‘benefit of the doubt’ in the mind of the above-mentioned person in reference. In law, whenever such a thing occurs, the learned judge/magistrate WILL NOT make a judgement which is DETRIMENTAL towards you. ‘Benefit of doubt’ in this case ought to prevail, I am sure.
To conclude my answer to you as what you should do with regards to your problem, after explaining to the court what I’ve suggested, conclude by saying ‘Your honour, under the above circumstances I therefore PLEAD, not guilty!’
So there you are Mr. Wong, go ahead, appear in court, Waiting for the case to appear will undoubtedly put you under lots of pressure. But I feel, it’s all worth it. Best of luck, this blog send you!
On 12th of September 2014, Mr. Wong wrote in again with the following:
Thank you very much Cikgu for your words of encouragement. What I am more worried are the words written on the summons which says “Tidak mematuhi lampu isyarat merah” which seems to imply that I did not obey the RED stop sign.
Like a law abiding citizen, I signed for and accepted the summons without question. I also did not attempt to offer any “incentives”. Now I have to waste a day to attend court hearing. Just wondering if there is any authority I can turn to, to strike this off?
A few months went by and Mr. Wong wrote to our blog again on 9th January 2015:
Dear Cikgu Yap
I just thought I should drop by again and give closure to my question raised on Sept 8, 2014. It has been a long-drawn process as is common with court cases. I read very carefully your advice and it was indeed very helpful. I went back to the scene of the incident and took some photos of the traffic lights and also a general view of the traffic junction. I also printed out your answer to me in case I had to “quote” you. On my first visit to the court, I was nervous, not knowing what to expect. It turned out, the court magistrate is a young man who was quite lenient. I felt re-assured after hearing some of the other cases.. most times the magistrate would asked the defendants whether they wanted a lighter fine and the reasons why. When my turn was up, I was asked if I wanted to plead guilty and my answer was no. My case was then adjourned for hearing a month later. During my second visit, I was asked again if I wanted to plead guilty, again I said no and so my case was adjourned again for the final “bicara”. Outside the courtroom, of course, there were “hints” that all this could have been settled rather easily and if I really want to attend the third hearing called “bicara” I might have to engage a lawyer and so on — I just ignored what was said to me and walked in and out of the courtroom confidently.
So today, almost 5 months since the incident, I attended the “bicara” on my third visit to the court. I was getting quite confident and quite used to court etiquette etc… addressing the magistrate as “Yang Ariff”, putting my arms behind my back, bowing before the magistrate etc. Mine was the first case called to session. To my surprise, and without my well-prepared defense speech being needed, the PDRM spokesperson announced that they have decided to withdraw the case. I guess their own lawyers must have studied the case beforehand. The two officers who issued me the tickets were also summoned to the court in case their testimony was needed. Outside the courtroom, I jokingly told the officer who issued me the ticket that he had wasted not only my time but the court’s as well. He, himself, had to ride his motorbike from his home in Kajang to attend the bicara. For me, it was only a 15 mins drive as I live quite nearby. Anyway I shook his hands and acknowledged that he was just doing his job… although not very well.
My final advice to all. Don’t be tempted to offer bribes especially if it’s a grey area or you are not entirely wrong. Under the law, there are factors called “mitigating circumstances”. Even for clear-cut offenders, there is an avenue to plead for leniency eg if you are sole breadwinner and low wage earner etc. Most times, the magistrate just want you to know that you have committed an offence and must pay for it, the amount can be “bargained” and in most cases it is affordable according to your economic circumstances. But be sensible, of course. One guy was caught speeding in a Toyota Estima and he claimed to be poor!
Anyway, my deepest thanks to you you, Cikgu Yap for your invaluable advice. :)
Finally, Cikgu Yap responded with the following:
Dear Wong, Sorry you had to go through a long, tedious court proceedings. Anyway your fine be overthrown is definitely this blog’s success. Good for you!