KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 — Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong should publicly state if stiffer penalties will be imposed on illegal racing by cars and motorcycles — known colloquially as Mat Rempits — similar to those convicted of drink driving, federal Opposition lawmaker Lim Guan Eng said today.
The Bagan MP called the minister to make it clear once and for all instead of evading the topic by making political remarks.
“Wee had criticised me and trumpeted his success for increasing the penalties of death caused by reckless or dangerous driving under Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 to a fine of RM50,000 and/or a five to 10 year jail sentence. Wee claimed that this covers heavier penalties for Mat Rempits.
“However, Wee could not explain why the heavier penalties imposed for drunk drivers that cause death are double that of the jail sentence imposed on Mat Rempits causing deaths,” Lim said in a statement.
The Penang lawmaker suggested Wee was making light of the dangers posed by illegal racers and pointed out that Mat Rempit stunts caused the deaths of five people in the island state just last month.
Lim reminded Wee that the latter had already increased the penalties for those driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs two years ago, but noted that similar stern action against Mat Rempits seemed slow in contrast.
The DAP national chairman noted there were news reports citing Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Isham Ishak saying the government plans to raise the punishment for illegal racers under the Road Transport Act 198, with a RM5,000 minimum and capping it at RM10,000.
Lim claimed the planned increase was due to his persistent questioning, which he noted is still lower than the penalties for driving under the influence.
Section 44 of the Transport Act amended in 2020 provides for a fine of RM50,000 to RM100,000 and a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 15 years in jail for first offenders convicted of driving under the influence.
“Increasing token penalties for Mat Rempits will have no deterrent effect to stop the danger posed by illegal racers to the safety of members of the public unless the penalties are equal to that imposed for drunk driving.
“There is no disagreement that parents who allow their children under 18 years old to take part in the races should also be punished.
“However the ministry’s intention to get insurers to charge higher premiums for motorcyclists arrested for illegal racing may not have any impact since many of the Mat Rempits are not insured anyway,” Lim said.
He added that the current penalties for those caught taking part in illegal races is just a fine up to RM300.