Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The AES Scam

The AES or Automated Enforcement System is becoming a hot potato for the government. Simply put, it is a road safety enforcement system that will deploy speedtrap cameras to ‘monitor’ traffic in 831 “black spot” areas on highways in addition to stretches of state and federal roads. All the cameras – which have an 11MP resolution – will be able to record both still image and video footage of vehicles committing speed-related offences, and are connected via a broadband link to the respective system’s headquarters. Once captured, the photographic evidence is then passed on to the JPJ (i.e. Road Transport Deparment), which will verify it, and a fine is then issued to traffic offenders.

For the first phase of the AES, fourteen cameras were installed in Perak, Selangor, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur, with 10 of the cameras to catch speed limit breakers and four to catch those who jump traffic lights. Sounds good, right?

But why is there general public unhappiness? Last Friday, a crowd of five hundred protested against the AES outside the Lumut parliamentary office of MP Kong Cho Ha, who is also Transport Minister. The marchers had wanted to deliver a memo to Kong but he wasn’t there. Chicken!

Among the politicians in the crowd were Perak PKR rep Chang Lih Kang, Perak Pas Youth rep Raja Ahmad Iskandar and Central PKR rep Siti Aisyah Sheik Ismail as well as NGO reps.

I am not against the merits of the AES in reducing road accidents but I get upset when I know where our money is going to and who stands to profit from the large sums collected in fines. In this case, the AES venture will be undertaken by two different companies, ATES Sdn Bhd and Beta Tegap.

Malaysians are increasingly wary of any government schemes, no matter how well-intentioned they are because the motives aren’t what they are in the first place. In other words, the government is insincere. The government does things under false pretences. The government has an ulterior motive. This RM600-RM800 million project is about how lucrative concession agreements are entered into with obscure but politically well-connected companies.

I am right in believing so because according to The Malaysian Insider, “both ATES and Beta Tegap are entitled to RM16 per valid summons for the first five million issued. They will then split the remaining revenue evenly with the government up to a cap of RM270 million each.The firms will each receive 7.5 percent from the remaining revenue and the government will keep the rest" (Webpage http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/litee/malaysia/article/selangor-suspends-aes-says-rtd-cannot-justify-speed-cameras, published November 09, 2012).

I repeat. Doesn’t this sound like a profit-making business? The AES is not so much about catching traffic offenders and reducing the number of road fatalities as being a cash cow for crony companies. And if you know how to do your sums, you will know that the AES is nothing but a Brobdingnagian scam.

And whatever happened to the three thousand plus cameras already installed by the police to perform the same function? Like all government purchases, I am sure they will have cost a bomb!

Truth be told, the two said private (and unknown) companies are not here to promote road safety, but to realize their potentiality of growing fabulously rich beyond the dreams of avarice by convincing the brainless government that the latter needs the AES. That is why the people are agitated.

Penang has delayed the implementation of the AES while Selangor has suspended it until further notice. Even MP for Rembau and UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin has called on the government to defer implementing the AES until all the inherent weaknesses of the system are rectified. I agree. Why the rush?

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