TRANSIT was debating for some time about how and when to make this posting. You see, it is not easy to always express our real feelings about public transport. Many people in government and the public transport industry are quite sensitive to criticism, and that sensitivity can increase unpredictably……
But frankly, we are disappointed and embarrassed that SPAD is not going to be 100% operational and taking on its full appointed role until sometime next year … and this is because of a “technicality” that is really an example of the government cowering away from controversy at the expense of the public good……
- Article: SPAD delay due to technicality (The Star)
- Article: Can SPAD take off, let alone deliver? (The Star)
- Letter: Public transport needs help now (The Star)
Basically it goes like this: In order to create SPAD, a number of existing laws had to be amended to make room for the new organization. These included the Acts responsible for the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board (CVLB Act 1987), the Department of Railways (Railways Act 1991), as well as the licensing of tourism vehicles and the Road Transport Act.
All of the amendments as proposed were passed except for those related to the Road Transport Act.
The reason for this is that when the government introduced the amendment to the Road Transport Act into Parliament that would allow the creation of SPAD they chose to package it with a number of other amendments to the Road Transport Act, including an increase in the minimum age to drive a motorcycle (from 16 to 17), a new policy to put control over vehicle registration plates into the hands of the Road Transport Department, and an increase in the compound for road offences from RM300 to RM1000.
All of the amendments that were not related to SPAD were controversial and a number of MPs protested – so the government chose to withdraw the Amendment from Parliament instead of finding a way to repackage the amendment.
Hence, SPAD cannot have full authority until the amendment to the Road Transport Act that gives it a part of its authority is introduced into Parliament, passed by a majority of MPs, approved and signed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, and finally, enacted into law.
Why are we disappointed? Simply because we at TRANSIT have been waiting so long for real improvement in public transport, and we thought that the arrival of SPAD would start to make a real difference. And we appreciated the efforts of the people at SPAD who were fighting hard with the proponents and beneficiaries of the existing system and at the same time, working to help make a difference instead of waiting until they had “full authority”
Why are we embarrassed? Because we did not realize back in March that the withdrawal of the amendment to the Road Transport Act would hamper the operations of SPAD. And because the government did not manage to find a way to package (or repackage) the amendment to ensure that the SPAD-related content would go through the first time. And finally, because we wanted to see the legislation early on and asked for permission to see it but were rejected. Not that we could have made much difference there….but it still leaves a sour taste behind.
On the other hand…despite what some people may think, we are still confident in SPAD and we believe that they are ready to continue pushing and moving public transport forward. And we know that this delay can be seen as a setback or it can be seen as an opportunity – and we at TRANSIT choose to see it as an opportunity.
So, TRANSIT readers – we need you to make Malaysia’s Public Transport Forum the best that it can possibly be. We need to discuss issues and question decisions and make suggestions and give SPAD and the government the most precious gift that they can use – honest, truthful feedback.
Let’s make the most of these next few months!