HARESH SAYS: No action, talk only

As published in Malay Mail today

By Haresh Deol

A NASTY pothole in Section 13, Petaling Jaya, did more than just create a loud thud on my way back from work on Saturday. It dented my rim pretty bad.

I had arranged a series of meetings on Monday and they had to be cancelled as I had to visit a service centre nearby to get the rim inspected. I could have taken my car to my regular tyre shop but I did not want to jeopardise the vehicle’s warranty. Such paranoia stems from reading letters sent to Malay Mail Hotline by those taking issue with car manufacturers that cancel warranties over minor jobs carried out by third-party workshops.

I drove to the service centre, parked my car, obtained a number and waited for my turn. A young chap attended to me and I showed him the rim. He said: “Sorry sir, but we don’t repair rims here. I suggest you take it to a tyre shop to get it fixed.”

I looked at my watch. Thirty minutes wasted.

I went to my regular tyre man at Taman Industri Pandan Indah. He shook his head when he saw the rim and pointed at the road in front of his shop. It was riddled with potholes. He sympathised with me and said he would need 30 minutes to get the rim fixed.

I paid RM20 — a small token given the extent of the damage. But this is not about the RM20. It is about the one hour wasted and the morning meetings I had to cancel.

Driving out of the area, I had to be alert like a soldier crossing a minefield. Those who stay or commute in Ampang, Petaling Jaya and Subang will agree this is no exaggeration.

Potholes are a big deal. Business Insider India had on Monday reported locals turned potholes into art — including a life-sized replica of a crocodile, anaconda and two arms sticking out of a hole with a “Help Me” sign — to highlight the dismal conditions of the roads.

UK’s Mirror had on Nov 6 reported “one in seven Brits has been forced to fork out money for repairs after having their car damaged by uneven roads, with tyre, suspension and wheel rim repairs costing up to £300 (RM1,919) a time.

The roads in the Klang Valley are equally appalling. I ride, so I also feel for those on two-wheels who have to travel on such poor surfaces. As it rains daily these days, those who ride at night are bound to crash if they fail to avoid the potholes in time. Who will be accountable if a death occurs?

Interestingly, Ampang, Petaling Jaya and Subang are in Selangor — the state where its former menteri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was removed by his PKR party in 2014 due to, among others, garbage collection issues and potholes.

The potholes are still around. And we have seen more of such depressions on our roads. Promises were made to fix them but certain quarters are now eager building highways instead of maintaining existing roads.
It has been no action, only talk — just like the FA of Malaysia (FAM).

On Monday, FAM issued a statement on its website following a letter it received from the Sports Commissioner’s Office. It was regarding the World Cup qualifying match fiasco between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia at Shah Alam Stadium on Sept 8.

The match was abandoned in the 88th minute after fans launched flares, smoke bombs and firecrackers at the pitch. Many, including Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, took FAM to task for their failure to keep the crowd in check. Following the incident, Fifa slapped FAM with fines of RM180,000 and Harimau Malaya was forced to play United Arab Emirates in another World Cup qualifier on Nov 17 in an empty stadium.

The Sports Commissioner, according to FAM, said the association should look into three matters — to tighten existing rules and implement crowd management measures with the stadium authorities, to update the standard operating procedure on security and to improve screening of spectators and traders at the venue.

“FAM will take the necessary steps to ensure such an incident will not happen again,” said  a statement signed by FAM general secretary Datuk Hamidin Amin. It also read: “The new rules are still being developed and will take into account the concepts practised by Fifa and Uefa.”

So, what concepts or practices have FAM been following all this while?

Despite the hue and cry by the ministry, Sports Commissioner Datuk Zaiton Othman could only give her recommendations — a mere slap on the wrist as far as FAM is concerned.

It is no fault of hers though, as the limited and “toothless” role of the Office has been widely discussed in the past, especially by Malay Mail sports editor Graig Nunis in his Going Nuts column on Oct 27.

However, the statement is also viewed as a slap in the face for FAM. The national body has to be reminded of the basic rules in managing crowd and stadium security. Lighting explosives in the stadium is a big no-no. Former graphic designer Ahmad Jazimin Mohd Jalaludin lost his right eye after he was hit by a firecracker during the Malaysia-Singapore World Cup qualifying match at the National Stadium in 2011.

So, what do potholes and FAM have in common? For starters, much have been said about them, yet the problems linger. 

Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali should be worried as not fixing roads has been set as a precedent for getting booted out. As for FAM, they should be embarrassed that after decades of organising matches, they are still figuring out security at the stands.

Let us hope someone will finally come to their senses and take affirmative action to address these concerns. Till then, please save money for your rims and invest in insurance — in case you lose an eye or two while watching a football match at the stands.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol


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