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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

blame

Loads of people call me crazy for driving back to KL from Hicktown every weekend. They tell me I should take the bus - its cheaper and not so tiring. Yes, I say, but I trust myself more than I trust the bus drivers.

Another day, another bus accident. Another pile up of body bags. Another aftermath to keep people occupied with, until another set of jet engines (or missile launchers) go missing.

People keep talking about the bus driver being sleepy. Today, he claimed trial to reckless driving, after admitting that he fell asleep at the wheel. Then you have silly politicians wanting to ban night buses, while forgetting that people can fall asleep during the day too. We also have people talking about special licenses to drive double decker buses and all that hoolah.

This job has thought me many things, especially when it comes to pinning the root cause to a problem. Major industrial accidents of recent time (which I am familiar with anyway) never pointed the blame to one individual. The 2 operators who caused the BP Texas City explosion never went to jail or got fined. And certainly, it was Exxon that bore the brunt of the lawsuits and penalties in the Exxon Valdez oil spill, not the tired third mate and the drunk ship master.

Tragedies occur because of a sequence of events. They occur because of the lack of safeguarding measures that should be in place. Yes, they are often triggered by people earning $5 an hour, but this doesn't mean the blame should fall on their shoulders. The fact that he is paid $5 an hour is testament enough to his skill and competency, hence why should it surprise anyone when this guy inadvertently sets the barn on fire? He certainly didn't put all the hay in the barn, nor did he make the barn out of wood, so if anything he is as much of a victim because he has to live with the guilt of killing all those people anyway.

More pertinent questions here are:

1. Why was he tired? Has he been overworked? Why is he overworked? How many hours had he been driving? Is there an enforcement on how many hours a bus driver is allowed to drive in a day?

2. What was his co-driver doing? Sleeping, we presume? If he felt sleepy, why didn't he tell his co-driver who should have then kept him company by chatting about random things?

3. It is easy to ask him to rest, but if he had pulled over to sleep, and if the bus arrived at the destination late, would he have been in trouble with his bosses for delaying the next trip? Does the bus company, or in fact, do any of the bus companies have policies pertaining to this? What would happen to a bus driver if he frequently arrived late because he frequently pulled over to take a nap? Would he be in trouble with his bosses? Or do they encourage him to pull over and take a nap? Why has NOBODY asked this question?

4. Why is there no outrage (not even from Malaysiakini!!!?!) towards the lawmakers? Why are the Ministry of Transport allowed to go scot free in all these accidents? Why are they not passing laws or coming up with proper procedures to mitigate future accidents?


The problem with blaming the bus driver is that you can put him in jail and think, "Ah, that's it then. He won't be around to kill anymore people." But we forget that a few months from now, someone else WILL fall asleep at the wheel again.

And we put him in jail. And another. And another...

We rewind, and press play. We keep looping the tape over, and over, and over again....till when?




Post publication entry (3 Dec 2010):

5 days after I wrote the above, The Sunday Star did a center spread on this issue. In the past few days, I have been reading the Letters to Editors section of a few newspapers. Still, nobody has raised the question I did about point number (3).

The Sunday Star article had 2 short paragraphs briefly talking about it:
Farhan Zainal* has just returned from the Road Transport Department (RTD) to explain why his bus had arrived late at the station by 20 minutes.

"A passenger lodged a complaint," he says. "If you are fast, then you’re good. If you’re slow, they say the bus is like a kereta lembu (bullock cart)."


I think this is outrageous!! Why does the bus driver report to the RTD on why he is late? Is this the main reason why drivers are reluctant to take a break even though they are sleepy?

Still all the unasnwered questions...

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Monday, December 28, 2009

2009 wrap up

It's been almost 2 months since I wrote anything here.

I used to say that I was busy. It was true, too. I had a crazy exam to study for. I had tons of books piling up, waiting to be read. This blog, which seemed so important just a few years ago gradually became a thing of the past.

But I won't shut it down. There are gems buried in the archives. As we grow up, our perception changes, we see the world differently, some of the opinions I made back then might probably be outdated now, although I am pretty adamant that I still stand by most of them. So no, the blog stays, for better or for worse. Michelle told me long ago that I should put the password for this blog in my will so that someone (the grandkids, I believe) could carry on.

I reckon, I will still use this as a reminder to myself. My thoughts, though cryptic at times, are primarily for me anyway, so this is a good place to pen them. Besides, I still love writing anyway.

2009 has been a relatively good year.

I say relatively, because all things good are relative anyway.

I got promoted this year, so the career seems to be going well. I've never had much problems with work anywhere I went, so I suppose that's a great thing. Financially, I've not had to worry about money this year too, the markets have been great, plus when you are good at your job, moolah tends to come your way pretty easily.

After my boast in last year's wrap up that I've never had to take a single day's sick leave in the 3 years I had been working, I got floored early on this year with a bloody kidney stone. This despite me drinking 4 litres of water a day without fail. Too bad, I guess. The doctor says that the magnitude of pain from a kidney stone is similar to labour pains so I think I now know what women go through, hah!

Traditionally, only those two things have ever been important to me - career (and money) and health. Family goes without saying. So, make that 3 things. I've never really cared about anything more. I've never really bothered to put much (or any effort) at my personal life. Perhaps it is time to change the game play and look at other things.

So let's take things one step at a time.

Everybody knows that the only reason I am here in this Hicktown is because of the job. And I love this job. But let's work on getting back to KL in the coming year. And let's make that my one and only target this New Year.

If you are new to this blog (chances, you are not - since I don't publicize it), there is an annual mantra that I recite this time of the year:

I am not going to wish you an awesome year ahead, because inevitably, there will be setbacks, disappointments and heartbreaks. I do, however, wish you the strength to overcome all that adversity, the tenacity to piss in the wind and the guts to stare down the barrel of a gun.

And above all, to enjoy the year ahead.

Happy New Year, folks!

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