Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The heavily populated Klang Valley, where I live, was in chaos this evening. Flash floods closed numerous roads around Kuala Lumpur, and just to add to the misery, a substantial fuel price hike from tomorrow made every second car owner head for the nearest petrol station - which clogged up roads even more. Ah, the joys of modern transport convenience.

I come home and a letter in the newspaper catches my eye. Someone wrote in about the recent law which is aimed at enforcing the use of seatbelts in the rear seats of vehicles. She wants authorities to "provide an explanation" to her of how families of more than five are supposed to travel.

Huh?

She has chosen to have more than three children, yet has never given the slightest thought to their safety while travelling in their family car? Pile them in the back seat, or sitting on Mum's knee in the front - that's fine! Ask them to belt up, and she gets indignant. "How is my family of six people supposed to travel?" she asks.

Well, I would say to her, you should have thought of that before you had so many kids. Now someone else is telling you that you have to think of their welfare, and you have the cheek to be upset. Sorry, I am not in the least bit sympathetic. It's time Malaysians accepted responsibility for having large families.

My worry now is that there is still no law that says that children have to be seated with restraints appropriate to their age and weight. We might no longer see accidents where children become flying missiles sent headfirst through the windscreen, and see instead accidents where children have their heads ripped off my an adult sized seatbelt that ends up across their necks.

I have never understood how some Malaysians can spend a small fortune on a luxury car and then happily allow their child to stand, unrestrained, in the space between the front seats, or lie on the back window ledge, or stick their head out the window...

Oh, of course! I forgot. If they die, it's not the adults' fault. It's God's will. That makes it ok.

10 comments:

Jo said...

What a frightening thought.

A lot of cars here have three seat belts in the back. What about car seats, are those used in Malaysia?

Glenda Larke said...

Car seats tend to be used by Malaysians who have lived abroad at one time. But locally? Nope. Not much. And no one seems to care.

Jo said...

Are children, generally, not highly thought of, i.e. is life considered cheap much the way the Japanese think? New blog topic for you perhaps, how Malaysians consider life in general and children in particular

ginie said...

hello !
i definitely like to read your blog and your bloggers ! i feel a little less lost in this nonsense world!

i don't know really what to think about all this. Even in my country (france) i can hear about some story of that kind. It's not always because of the destiny nor the god's will. May be about our strange president ! lol

But one thing is sure: it's certainly never because of the adults ! Most of people around me are running away from their responsabilities. Strange world !

i'm not sure that i can be glad about thoses similars things or if i should be angry !

webfaery said...

Even in places where the laws are there, you see some very irresponsible things on the part of parents.
I lived in the states for several years. Some of that time was spent in Salt Lake City. A beautiful city. Driving along a busy main road one afternoon, I looked across at the car next to me. It was a large, modern, high end SUV. There were 2 young girls playing over in the back (luggage area). They would have been maybe around 7 years old and kept laying down and popping their heads up. The only other person in the car was mum, so it wasn't lack of space. Young, attractive, affluent mum was using her mascara and eyelash curler as she drove down the road! The irresponsibility isn't always in the number of kids, sometimes it's in having kids at all.

P.S. I'm a recent convert to your writing. I found you via Trudi
Canavan's website. Loved your books! Also thoroughly enjoy reading your blog. We've just moved from the top end of Australia to Perth, so I find myself nodding my head in understanding at your tropical-critter-in-the-house tales and ooh-aahing over your WA photos and saying "we must go there".

hrugaar said...

When I was travelling on the coach from Heathrow to Gatwick (airports) the driver announced over the speaker system that the law now required all passengers to wear their seatbelts ... and then he added that if any passengers failed to comply, he would personally come back down the bus and strap them in!

I confess I was (briefly) tempted to leave my belt off, just to see if he made good on the threat, heh.

Glenda Larke said...

No, Jo - the odd things is that Malaysians generally adore children and love their own to death. (Well, maybe that's an unexpectedly appropriate choice of words here.) They love them, but seem unable to believe that they can actually do something to help them reach adulthood as far as car safety is concerned.

I think it has to do with an Asian fatalism, or the idea of karma, or God's will being involved. And that letter-to-the-editor-writer is amazing, surely - she wants the government to sanction her indifference to her children's safety. If she elects to have more children than her car will hold, then the government is supposed to say it is ok that one of them does not wear a seat belt? I'm with Ginie here, I don't really understand how that woman is thinking, I must admit.

Webfaery - hi! Enjoy your stay in Perth! I shall have to give Trudi a hug when I see her next for the recommendation. She's touring New Zealand at the moment - having finished her next book, you'll be glad to hear.

Hrugaar - I must admit that when I sit down in a bus I start feeling around for the seatbelt automatically - although I have yet to find a bus that had one. In any country.

Anonymous said...

Huh? Millions of people have driven without seatbelts for scores of years. Very few of them have died of it. The heck is your problem?

Glenda Larke said...

Hello, anon. Well, firstly my "problem" stems from the fact that I would probably be dead if it weren't for a seat belt, and secondly, because when we were up in the mountains the other day, we saw a badly injured, bloodied child - obviously not seat-belted - being lifted from a car that had been in a very very minor traffic accident that should have had no injuries at all. Trust that answers your question.

Jo said...

The fact that we did without things for a long time before they were invented doesn't mean we shouldn't make use of them now they have been. All kinds of people went flying through their wind shields which would not have happened if they had used seat belts. I have seen the results on several occasions, it isn't pretty. When it is children, it becomes even worse because an adult should have taken responsibility. Maybe someone did for you Anon, when you were a child, but presumably you are now old enough to make your own irresponsible decisions.