KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysian police have warned they will soon arrest foreigners who have not paid up their traffic fines, as the government takes a harder stance against those who have piled up a total of 838,510 summonses in the past 14 years.
But drivers from Singapore, who contributed 37.4 per cent of this total, need not fret just yet about entering Malaysia for the year-end holidays, as the authorities have to finalise details with government agencies on setting up an electronic system to spot the errant motorists.
Vehicles from Singapore and southern Thailand are regularly driven into Peninsular Malaysia, while those from Brunei and Kalimantan in Indonesia make trips into Sarawak and Sabah.
Malaysian traffic police chief Fuad Abdul Latiff said at a press conference on Wednesday that "police will conduct operations soon at various road entry points to detect these errant motorists".
He told The Straits Times later that plans to nab foreigners with unpaid fines and warrants of arrest "are not happening" until a new system at entry points to Malaysia has been agreed upon with other agencies, including the Immigration Department.
"Setting up operations (for arrests) will be the next step after the system has been finalised," he said yesterday.
A Nov 9 crash, involving a Porsche 911 Turbo from Singapore that killed the nephew of Hong Leong chairman Kwek Leng Beng, sparked an outcry against Singaporean drivers, who are accused of speeding recklessly on Malaysian roads.
In December last year, three Lamborghinis from Singapore crashed and burned near Seremban town along the North-South Expressway.
Apart from the 313,661 summonses for Singapore-registered vehicles still outstanding, there are 4,621 arrest warrants issued against repeat offenders from Singapore.
Malaysian traffic summonses - which cost between RM150 (S$57) and RM300 for speeding and parking offences - can be paid online or at Malaysian post offices and police stations. But many Singaporeans appear to have ignored them as there is little legal repercussion.
There are currently no checks on the records of vehicles entering Malaysia. Drivers who are stopped for new offences do not routinely have their records checked, which allows them to accumulate unsettled summonses and get away scot-free.
Malaysia is working to set up a blacklist of repeat traffic offenders to block them from driving in.
The new electronic system is aimed at reining in drivers who flout rules with no fear of punishment, said Road Safety Department chief Tam Keng Wah.
He said the new electronic mechanism will work in tandem with the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) system which Malaysia wants to introduce for Singapore- registered vehicles entering Johor Baru.
The VEP system was reported as being planned to be put in place by the year end, but implementation details have not been revealed.
Mr Fuad also said Malaysian police have received approval to install what is called Automated Number Plate Recognition equipment, which will help track foreign vehicles.
According to last year's Auditor-General's Report, Singaporeans paid 12,000 summonses between 2011 and last year. This works out to less than 15 per cent of the 84,000 summonses issued.
Malaysians, on the other hand, face graver consequences for ignoring their fines, such as having their licences revoked. They settled 6.7 million out of 16.2 million fines - about 40 per cent - during the same period.
This article was first published on December 12, 2014.
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