Not all of the “Mat Rempit” or speed fiends resorted to crimes.Read the second article from the series on the ‘Mat Rempit menace from Bernama by Muhamad Fairoz Azizan dan Nurqalbi Mohd Reda below:
MAT REMPIT ALSO SNATCH THIEVES, ROAD THUGS?
“Not all mat rempit are street thugs and criminals. Look at me…I only took part in the illegal racing, and did not commit snatch thefts and other crimes”.
Those were the words of a former street racer and speed fiend (mat rempit), Syairul Azahar Alias, 24.
The technician at Auto Bavaria Bhd said despite the society’s perception that the mat rempit are street thugs, the truth is that not all of these speed fiends resorted to crimes.
According to Syairul Azahar, even though two of his mat rempit biker friends died in a road crash while racing on the streets, that did not deter him from continuing with this daredevil act.
“The scene where my two friends died in front of me, due to a road crash while racing on the street, is still fresh in my mind. I remembered the others and I made our getaway, leaving the two to succumb to their injuries . . .nobody had wanted to stay and help.
“Everybody did not want to be arrested. . . and those (mat rempit) who crashed, that was to be their fate,” he said.
Since the 80s, images of the motorcycle gangs, formerly known as ‘mat motor’ were widely shown on Malay movies like Ali Setan, Gila-Gila Remaja, Litar Kasih, KL Menjerit, Remp-it and the latest, Bohsia.
Youths were easily swayed by the actions and stunts performed in these movies and tend to make them acts to follow.
According to a study by a family institution body, the mat rempit culture arose from the lack of parental guidance and attention, thus prompting teenagers who were as young as 13 years old to plunge into such act.
The study also revealed that peer pressure and exposure to ‘gung-ho’ and daring movies full with motorcycle and car chase as well as stunts apart from that which depicted Illegal Street racing were among the other factors.
According to the Federal Police’s CID Director, Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Mohd Zinin, among the causative factors of this menace is the lack of parental guidance.
“The youths were given too much freedom, to the extent that their own parents did not know what their children were doing daily,” he said.
Mohd Bakri said from this point onwards, the youths would seek out their peers to share their time and perform other activities for fun and excitement and these include illegal racing on motorcycles.
He said the youths were willing to even sacrifice their life and limb for the opportunity to win prizes that included women and money.
“They resorted to illegal racing on the streets for the sake of personal indulgence apart from trying to win bets that they could use to modify their motorbikes or buy drugs.
“This made them inclined to commit crimes including snatch thefts,” he said.
NOT ALL ARE SNATCH THIEVES
However not all of the mat rempit are snatch thieves or road thugs as it is known that those who resorted to committing such crimes are within the 16 to 40 age bracket, he said.
As for the speed fiends, their age is between 13 and 25 years old, he said.
The facts were garnered from operations held to curb illegal racing.
Mohd Bakri said the snatch theft cases in the country is within control and the police are studying whether there is a link between the economic downturn and number of snatch theft incidences.
“Many proposals have been put forward to the relevant agencies including that which prohibits motorcyclists from entering tourist spots like the zone in Bukit Bintang,” he said.
However this proposal should be given a thorough study as it is definitely going to affect many who resorted to using motorcycles as a way to pass through the city’s jam-filled streets, said Mohd Bakri.
In another development, Kuala Lumpur Datuk Bandar, Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail, said City Hall is looking into several possibilities in efforts to curb snatch thefts.
These include the possibility of constructing overhead pedestrian bridges and limiting the number of motorcycle lanes at popular public spots in the city.
Ahmad Fuad said City Hall has planted shrubs in an effort to block paths illegally used by motorcycles and if the programme turns out to be successful, then it would be expanded to other parts in the city.
“The planting of shrubs would be able to prevent the motorcycles from intruding into the paths used by pedestrians. Indirectly this prevents incidences of snatch thefts,” said the Datuk Bandar.
However the call for the prohibition of motorcycles from entering the city should seriously considered in detail as many of the city residents are using motorcycles to commute daily.
STIFF PENALTY FOR OFFENDERS
There are also calls for a stiffer sentence to be imposed on the snatch thieves and road thugs.
Mohd Bakri suggested a sort of ‘social service’ for offenders, not to embarass them but to send the message to society that snatch theft is morally and legally wrong.
“We call for the offenders to be imposed social work for 8-12 hours a day at the spot where they had committed the offence, like sweeping the roads and so for,” he said.
He said the offenders should wear a poster or a t-shirt that has the words “I am a snatch-theft offender’ to teach the offenders a bitter lesson so that they would not resorted to committing the offence again.
However this form of punishment should be studied first before its implementation on whether it is suitable or otherwise in the country.
Mohd Bakri said the existing penalty has not invoke any fear in the mat rempit and road thugs as if they were not worried at all when facing the law.
“Police have to act within the existing law and we can only make enforcement. Punishment is the task of the courts,” he said.
Hence, the society should not point their fingers and allege the police are not doing their job.
“Do not blame everything on the police, instead help us to eliminate this problem. What is more important, do not give them the opportunity to commit the crime,” Mohd Bakri added.
SENSE OF REALISATION
Meanwhile Syairul Azhar said the realisation that being a mat rempit is morally and legally wrong should come from within the person himself.
“It is difficult to make people like us to come to our senses. Any effort can be made, (but) the sense of realisation must come from our very own heart”, added the former mat rempit.