Friday, November 23, 2012

Traffic enforcement must not be privatised, says ex-IGP

Traffic enforcement must not be privatised, says ex-IGP

November 23, 2012
Malaysian Insider
 
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — Putrajaya should not privatise law enforcement as it will create the impression the government is only interested in making money, former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said, after Parliament approved the roll-out of an outsourced automated system to catch and penalise speeding motorists.

The retired police officer is the latest to weigh in on the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES), which has drawn ire from the public and opposition lawmakers alarmed at the profit motive built into the concession agreement awarded to two private companies to install and manage the speed trap cameras over the next five years.

“To me, enforcement cannot be privatised,” Musa told The Malaysian Insider.
Musa said the AES is a ‘good system’ but its use could be broadened to other areas such as national security surveillance at key entry points. — File pic
“This will only create the perception that the government only wants to make profit on the people [sic],” he added in a telephone interview..
 The 60-year-old agreed with critics who have pointed out that the AES has many flaws that have yet to be addressed, including a 17 per cent minimum profit margin to the two concession holders — ATES Sdn Bhd and Beta Tegap — which would need to issue a whopping 2.72 million speeding tickets each over the next five years just to recoup their reported RM700 million investments.
He noted that there may be difficulties with enforcing fines issued by the private companies should the public challenge the summonses they receive in court.
He said there are two types of summonses, the first being fines that cannot be compounded and the second fines that can be compounded.

Musa said the latter type of summonses should rightfully be handled by government enforcement agencies such as the police and the Road Transport Department (RTD).

The AES is handled only by the RTD, not the police who have their own speed trap cameras.
“The public will have two ways, first pay at RTD counters and second, stand trial in court and let the court decide,” he said.

But Musa said the AES is a “good system” and could be used meaningfully to bolster national security surveillance at key entry points instead of being limited to traffic coverage.
“AES is a good system, but its use is not only for traffic.

“I hope it can be broadened to other sectors, like security,” he said, listing installing at airports and railway stations to monitor the situation there among other uses for the cameras.

The unpopular system that automatically detects and issues fines to speeding motorists as well as those who beat traffic lights has also seen growing resistance from Umno grassroots with a blog and Facebook account set up earlier this month to oppose the speed cameras, which could unite voters behind the federal opposition against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) at the 13th general election due soon.

A number of BN politicians are also becoming worried about it becoming a major campaign issue in the general election, and want the government to suspend the AES.

However, the BN lawmakers voted in favour of the AES on Wednesday when the Transport Ministry’s estimated expenditure under Budget 2013 was passed in Parliament in what the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs said was a vote for the unpopular camera system.

The 831 AES cameras will be installed by the two private companies nationwide and the management of the operation system will passed over to the RTD within five years.

Earlier this month, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop was reported telling Parliament that police would continue to use their mobile speed trap cameras despite the introduction of the AES.

The AES cameras, which have received much opposition from the public, are in their pilot phase, with 14 installed in Perak and the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya as well as Selangor despite the latter state’s PR government saying it is opposed to the privatised fine system.

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