PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Most Malaysians will give way to an ambulance which has its siren blaring, indicating an emergency.
However, many have voiced their suspicion as to whether all ambulances with their siren on were genuinely on call or their drivers were merely misusing the siren to escape traffic jams.
A motorist from Klang who posted online under the username pcdoctor my said he once came across an ambulance whose driver only switched on the siren in a traffic jam and proceeded to drive at a normal pace after he cleared the snarl.
"I was behind him! There was no emergency. He just wanted to beat the traffic jam," he posted.
Daniel, who is from Miri, said an ambulance driver had switched on the siren during a traffic jam in the city, only to stop at a pisang goreng stall to buy some snacks.
First aid trainee Sheila Tan, 23, has experienced an ambulance driver abusing the siren first-hand.
She was travelling in an ambulance which was sending her home when the driver switched on the siren upon encountering a traffic crawl.
"I was shocked to learn that not all the sirens wailing on the road are true emergencies. I felt cheated," said Tan.
Responding to the issue, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai warned ambulance drivers to never to abuse their siren for non-emergency purposes.
"We have issued a reminder and have instructed hospitals and their drivers not to abuse their siren. We will keep a check on future cases of abuse," said Liow.
The ministry had released a circular for ambulance drivers in 2007, which emphasised that traffic rules applied to ambulances even if they were carrying an urgent case.
Road Transport Department (RTD) director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan, meanwhile, advised Malaysians to give way to ambulances, even if they were suspicious.
"There is no way for motorists to prove whether an ambulance is faking it during a traffic jam," he said.
He added that people with reasonable grounds for complaint should report the matter to the Health Ministry, company or hospital that supplied the ambulance.