As I read the article “Helpless as car burns” in Friday 4th June 2010 edition of the Star newspaper, I am indeed saddened that such an incident, that shouldn’t happen, has again, unfortunately happened.

When will drivers ever start to learn to realize that a vehicle, amongst other things, must have an emergency triangle. And most important of all, it must also have a fire extinguisher as well.

With the above in mind, I have written a number of articles prior to this regarding the necessity to have this important item in our cars. In reality, it’s of no use if car owners possess the latest models of cars costing over RM100,000 but does not have a fire extinguisher. Then the purpose of such expensive cars is defeated.

As a lecturer for the Kursus Pendidikan Pemandu (K.P.P.), or better known as the “Course for potential drivers”, I have time and time again stressed the importance of having a fire extinguisher in our cars that we drive. But very unfortunately, the above advice, I believe, must surely have fallen to deaf ears.

How many drivers, for that matter, have fire extinguishers in their cars?

As a father, and a lecturer for the above defensive driver’s course, I have made it a point to see to it that my son’s, daughter’s and even my wife’s car have fire extinguishers in them. All the above have also emergency triangles and cones too.

For your information, a cone painted white and orange in colour only costs approximately RM25 – RM28 and available from most hardware shops around.

Reflecting upon the latest intention of the Road Transport Department and the government as a whole to introduce a new driving curriculum for potential drivers or “P” drivers soon, the authorities should in fact postpone such ambitious plans and programmes.

What, readers may ask, is the use of attempting to put Malaysia’s driving standards on par with world driving standard for? Is that more important than attempting to save the life of a school girl who perish in the 3 am fire which took place at Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur a few days ago?

For readers’ consumption, in the above tragic incident, which involved a woman’s Perodua Myvi, a Toyota Vios and a lorry with 2 men inside, the Myvi was reported to have burst into flames. Frantic efforts by a passer-by, a Mr. Teo Chai Yong, 31, to save the occupant of the car was unfortunately hampered by the lack of a fire extinguisher.

It was further reported, that Mr. Teo’s efforts to obtain a fire extinguisher from a nearby petrol station was unsuccessful. Mr. Teo’s effort to even purchase the fire extinguisher from them was unfortunately turned down!

The workers of the petrol pump refusal to provide the fire extinguisher to Mr. Teo cannot be faulted. The workers, whom I assumed to be foreigners were in fact just following their bosses’ directives.

What’s to be faulted here is why did the lorry which was involved in the incident fail to possess the mandatory fire extinguishers which they were suppose to have?

If only the lorry referred to in this incident had the necessary fire extinguisher, I believe the student who was burnt to death would certainly not have died. She was most certainly have been alive today.

The question I would like to raise is why did the authorities fail to take action on the lorry in question for not possessing a fire extinguisher all this while?

This bring us to the question of inability of the authorities, namely the Road Transport Department, J.P.J, the police and the licensing board, being unable to enforce existing laws which exists in the country today. It’s pointless having all types of laws if these laws itself cannot be enforced.

The enforcement of laws, especially when it pertains to the question of fire extinguishers in commercial vehicles is sadly said to be ineffective. If enforcement had been effective, this tragic and unfortunate incidents would not have taken place.

The question of private and personal vehicles not having fire extinguishers is yet another important factor which the authorities should contemplate further. Would it not be possible to impose the regulation whereby the authorities insist that it is a compulsory requirement to have a fire extinguisher before a vehicle road tax is issued.

To end this sad episode regarding this incident, the authorities say the case is being investigated under Section 41 (1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for reckless and dangerous driving.

The interesting thing here is, who is to be charged for committing the above offense. Is it the driver of the Perodua Myvi, the Toyota Vios or the driver of the lorry?

Related articles:

1) Woman dies in fire as BHP staff refuse to loan fire extinguisher

2) Accident on Cheras-Kajang Highway (BHP Incident)

3) Girl Burnt To Death at Jalan Cheras-Kajang