Friday, 15 September 2006

They Will Not Be Tamed

Two factions face off in the print and digital versions of The Star. The authorities have declared war on the illegal motorcycle racers collectively known as Mat Rempit, promising hell for the racers and their fans - once they figured out what kind of hell they want for the job.

The racers, meanwhile, have made their stand: unless the authorities build more racetracks to accommodate their favourite pastime, they will continue with what they've been doing. This comes after the antics of a group of racers and their hangers-on embarrassed Putera UMNO with their wild behaviour.

"Why are there so many golf courses in the city and so few tracks? It looks like nobody bothers about us because we have no money."

— Fairuz, 24, mechanic and illegal racer

Because golfers, unlike your pimped-out rides, don't roar like a swarm of gigantic mutant mosquitoes the likes of which only Godzilla can fight. Nor do their hobbies endanger the lives and mental health of innocent bystanders (barring that unlucky stray shot). Even if the anger from your frustrations is tamed, who'd be able to tolerate the noise? Then again, he has a point: why do we need so many golf courses?

"Mat Rempit will gamely take part in government-organised roadshows and convoys. But after that, it’s back to their cliques and street racing."

— Kechik, 23, student and illegal racer

What was that famous phrase? "Be, and it is?" It works both ways, it seems.

"All this negativity about us stems from the activities of a small number who were reported beating up people and caught for vandalism."

— Zaki, 25, IT professional and illegal racer

That will be little comfort for the victims of the small number, who will have to brave insurance claim hell, empty their pockets and live with the fact that the perpetrators of their misery may never be caught. If the illegal racing is nobody's business but theirs, they shouldn't drag innocent bystanders into it.

To be fair, some valid points were raised. Some of them have brilliant minds (to be expected of rogues "who can overclock a motorbike to go up to 200 klicks per hour"), like Zaki, who lays bare the motives behind Putera UMNO's re-branding exercise: "Looks like someone's trying to get political mileage out of 'taming' us."

So there you have it. They say they will not be tamed. Expect more shallow, cynical hair-brained schemes from Putera UMNO, and (unless something else is done) future clashes between these lawless thrill-seekers and the public, or the authorities.

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