Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Volume 3 Issue 10: Two-Cent Economics

Why the Big Push?

Here is an article from the Star on 7 March 2011:

Despite deadline extension, only 4% of outstanding summonses settled
PUTRAJAYA: Only 4% of the 17.3 million traffic summonses still outstanding at the end of last month have been settled, despite the second extension to the 50% discount offer to clear fines, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop said.
Abu Seman said despite all the repeated calls from motorists for an further extension to the Feb 28 deadline to settle summonses at a discount, only 700,000 had been settled until Monday.
"If the offenders are genuine (in their intention to settle their summonses), then they should come forward and pay the fines.
"We urge motorists who still have 16.6 million outstanding summonses to settle their fines quickly," he told a press conference here Monday.
He was commenting on the progress of payments on the fines that had been made after the Home Minister announced last week the extension to the discount period to March 10.
The extension was granted after considering grouses by offenders that their attempts to pay were hampered by extremely long queues, not enough counters and the system being down.
During the initial discount period, which began on Aug 12 last year, a total of 5.5 million summonses were paid.

What kind of message is the government trying to send by extending the discount period a second time? Alright, so the first time, they said that offenders were hampered by long queues. You give them another six months, and they still end up not paying. Why is that?

First, has the queue problem been solved? Is JPJ genuinely interested in helping people pay the summons? If they were, why not open on Sundays as well. If you only open during office hours, do you expect people to take off work and disrupt their lives just to pay your lousy summons? What is there to gain from that?

It is not only the queue. I have myself been to JPJ to "assist in an investigation". I was made to wait 3.5 hours before anything was done. That meant that 3.5 productive hours of my workday was gone. Compare this to the Immigration Department.

They were open on a Sunday. I went over at about 8.30 am. Dropped off my passport at the kiosk, went for breakfast and read a little bit. I went back about an hour later, and I got my passport renewed. How efficient is that? Why can't every government department operate with such efficiency?

Also, the number of outstanding summons could be misleading. I wonder how many of the outstanding summons are sent to the wrong owners of the vehicles. Based on anecdotal evidence, some of the people who received the summons did not actually commit the offence, but are merely the current car owner after purchasing it second hand. Another possibility is that the previous owner of a car is sent a summons that was committed by the current owner. One only wonders how efficient this system really is.

Furthermore, why threaten the offenders by saying that they would be unable to renew their road tax if they have existing summons? If you can actually do it, you would not have to extend the deadline in the first place. The massive amount of outstanding summons alone shows how inefficient JPJ is and how toothless of an agency it is. Plus, there must be something wrong with the country if there are 17 million traffic offenses that are left unpunished.

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