(first published in DRIVE (June 1991), the official publication of the AAM)
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My thoughts are that we must realize that driving conditions vary in almost every country, and we must adapt ourselves accordingly. Ok, there are some (maybe more than some) erratic drivers in Penang, but when I drove in Penang last January, after not driving there for 12 years, I found that I had no problems. It may seem a bit scary at first for first timer visitors, but if they use some patience/tolerance, they should be OK.
In my correspondence with my overseas friends who intend to spend their long holidays in Malaysia, there is a fear factor in all of them. Driving in Malaysia is a fear factor itself. The trick about driving on Malaysian roads where motorcyclists outnumber you especially in Penang is to just don't bother about them. The onus is on them to avoid running into you and so far so good. Occasinally some accidents do happen. Please also be aware that all Malaysian motorcyclists are colour blind. They see green all the time on the traffic lights. They don't stop when red as red or amber is two of the colours their eyes can see. They just shoot across and yes, the onus is on them to avoid you. You just calmly drive on if it is green for you. If I were to reward any motorcyclist RM 50 for stopping when it is red, I will still end up with the RM 50 in my hand at the end of the day! As for the many motorists here, they think that when the lights show red, they are given a grace period of a further 8 seconds to beat the light. So, if you are driving in front of any of these people, be prepared to be a suicide driver when the light turns red. You are in a situation of between the devil and the deep blue sea. Amber to these motorists also mean 'please speed and beat me before I turn red.' I dare not imagine these motorists meeting with the motorcyclists mentioned above. It will be acalpolyse at this intersection. So far God has been merciful with the law of nature functioning in this concrete jungle. Yellow boxes are none existence in Malaysia as motorists drive looking at the skies rather than on the road. That is why you will see all of them sitting in the yellow boxes happily in a jam when they are not supposed to be. If you tell them that there are a million yellow boxes in the country, they will ask, "then how come I don't see one on the road?" And the most useless safety gadget which is the indicator lights are very seldom used. All of them are still wondering what are those two blinking lights installed in front and back of their vehicles are for. Most probably these lights are the most expensive part of the car as they are hardly used. And lastly especially in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city, the lanes drawn on the roads mean nothing to inconsiderate drivers. You may have two lanes meant for turning left but eventually another three more lanes are created instantly by impatient motorists who insisted on jumping queues.
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