PETALING JAYA - The menace of Mat Lajak - youngsters who ride modified bicycles and perform stunts on public roads, posing a hazard to road users and endangering their own lives - is spreading across the country.
Initially a trend in Johor and Melaka, Mat Lajak have now been spotted in Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Four boys were detained in Balik Pulau, Penang, on Tuesday night while 11 were held in Kajang, Selangor, on Sunday.
In Balik Pulau, OCPD Supt A. Anbalagan said policemen on their patrol rounds spotted the boys at Jalan Besar at 10.30pm on Tuesday.
"The four boys, aged between 10 and 14, were riding their modified bicycles in a dangerous manner. The officers picked them up and brought them back to the station before informing their parents," he said yesterday.
Supt Anbalagan said one of the boys is a school dropout while the other three are still schooling.
He said the boys were released after their parents came to the station. Each boy was also issued a summons under Rule 42(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Rules 1959.
Recently, a three-minute video clip of Mat Lajak performing dangerous "Superman" stunts on a hilly, winding road in Teluk Bahang, Penang, went viral on social media.
One of the boys is seen riding face down with his legs stretched out, in Superman's flight posture, with the other two crouching low to gain speed.
The video also zooms in on a device attached to one bicycle, showing it travelling at 42 kph at one point.
In Kajang, OCPD Asst Comm Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yussof said police seized 11 excessively modified bicycles during Sunday's operation.
"Acting on complaints, we carried out an operation to nab members of the group.
"We do not want them to disturb the peace of the neighbourhood," he said.
When contacted regarding the issue, National Road Safety Council member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said he had also received numerous complaints from all over the country, and felt parents should take an active role in keeping their children safe.
"Enough is enough. It is high time for families, especially parents ... to not allow (children) to ride these dangerous bicycles on public roads at night," he said.
"Unfortunately, this menace has become a trend. These teenagers do stunts on their modified bicycles on public roads that endanger themselves and other road users."
It is not fair to rely solely on the authorities to stop such activities, he added.
More awareness campaigns should be conducted to educate parents on the dangers of the Mat Lajak trend, Lee said.
Referring to the case where eight teenagers died and another eight were injured when a car hit them while they were riding their bicycles on a public road in Johor Baru last year, Lee said parents must play their part to avoid such needless and preventable deaths.