Basikal lajak – whose fault is it?


Basikal lajak – Whose fault is it?
By Zan Azlee

Everyone is weighing in on the issue of basikal lajak now. Everyone is claiming to be an expert on the ‘sport’.

Sure, if you know the goings-on of how these young teenagers ride their modified bikes, then great.

When it comes to the recent case where a driver was found guilty and sentenced to six years in prison for killing six teens on basikal lajak, everyone weighs in on whether it is her fault, the teens’ faults or the parents’ fault.

Well, looks like I’ll be jumping on the bandwagon too and giving my two cents worth. But, I don’t want to be caught for insulting the judicial system or found to be in contempt of the court.

So, I’ll take the approach of saying that the entire thing is all the result of the socio-economic problem of our country, more specifically, the lack of social and economic equality among Malaysians.

The basikal lajak phenomenon is not unlike the rempit phenomenon. It is mainly an activity that is being indulged by those who are from the lower-income bracket.

A lot has been said about the parents having to take responsibility for their children being out on the highway in the middle of the night. Sure, the parents need to be responsible, but it would definitely be a challenge.

Compare them with parents who are a bit more privileged and see who has the luxury of spending more time parenting. For those from the B40 group, a main concern would be to make ends meet.

Time would be spent on making a living and trying hard to earn that extra buck. The opportunity cost to that would be less time to pay attention to their children.

For parents who are more privileged financially, struggling to make ends meet would not be such a main concern. Hence, they have the benefit of spending more time with their children.

More focus can be given to their education, life experiences and different exposure. Basically, children from well-to-do families have more opportunities to do many things.

A child from a rich family who has an interest in motorsports might have the opportunity to go for proper classes and participate in legit racing tournament circuits.

Their parents would be able to afford to give them this exposure and opportunity, and so they would less likely find themselves racing illegally on the highways in the middle of the night.

A child from a less privileged family, he or she wouldn’t have the same opportunities if they were interested in motorsport. For one, their parents would be busy making a living, and they would not even have the chance to talk and be given advice by their parents.

What more being given the opportunity to hone their interest through proper coaching and exposure?

Their only access to satisfy their interests would be to fix themselves up with cheap bike parts, sneak out in the middle of the night to streets that they hope would not have any traffic at that hour and indulge in their basikal lajakactivities.

Can you really blame these children or even their parents for that matter?

Ensure all youth equal access to opportunities

I don’t want to get in the way of the judicial process. Let it take its course. In fact, even the individual involved who is appealing against her guilty verdict has made a public statement saying that she believes in the system and she will go through the due process. But I do have something to say in terms of coming up with measures to prevent such incidents from occurring again.

It isn’t impossible to do. Take BMX bicycles and skateboarding, for example. These sports were in the same situation as basikal lajak is in right now. Back in the day, the kids who indulged in these sports were considered rascals because they hung out on the streets.

But now, with so many skateparks and facilities for them, these sports are now considered legit and are even in the Olympics. We even have national athletes competing in international tournaments. The recent 2019 SEA Games saw Malaysian BMXer Taslem Raziff winning Bronze in his category, making our country proud.

Basically, the state needs to ensure that socio-economic equality exists in society. The opportunity for people to make a decent income needs to exist. That is why the minimum wage issue is an important one. It is not just a matter of money. It has far-reaching effects on how our society and country progress and mature.

The state also needs to ensure that our country’s youth, no matter who they are, where they come from or what their backgrounds are, have access to opportunities that will educate and develop them into the best citizens that they can be for the country.

This is a basic human right for all youth. They should not be punished for the environment that they live in.

[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]

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