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Our coverage on COVID‑19

This is deadlier than the Wuhan Virus but Malaysians don’t even bat an eye

The Wuhan Coronavirus has been dominating the news these days. Malaysian-based airlines have cancelled flights to Wuhan since last week while the authorities have stepped up health screening at all international entry-points to the country.

4 confirmed Coronavirus cases in Malaysia

Wuhan Coronavirus Caixin

At the moment, there are more than 2,000 confirmed cases worldwide with a total of 56 death reported in mainland China. Currently, there are four reported cases in Malaysia and all of them are Chinese nationals. There are no fatalities so far outside of China but there’s a more deadly problem in our own backyard which isn’t getting much attention.

122 deaths in 8 days

As of yesterday, there are 122 deaths reported on Malaysian roads in the past 8 days which is more than double the death toll of the Wuhan virus. That’s equivalent to 15 deaths per day caused by road accidents which is far more devastating.

82 out of 122 deaths involve motorcyclists and pillion riders, with Selangor recording the highest number of fatalities with 23 cases, followed by Johor, Sarawak, Kedah and Kelantan. According to Bernama’s report, a total of 12,948 road crashes were reported during Ops Selamat since 18 January 2020 and Selangor has the highest number of cases at 3,870.

It is frustrating to see many lives were lost and this isn’t due to some natural disaster or a deadly virus. According to the Royal Malaysian Police, the major offences committed during Ops Selamat include the usage of mobile phones while driving, beating the red light, driving over the speed limit, misusing emergency lanes, cutting queues and overtaking on double lines. Also not forgetting the recent cases of drunk driving and a person driving like a madman because the person was in a rush.

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According to the WHO’s 2016 data, the death rate for road accidents in Malaysia is 23.6 per 100,000 people, which is the 3rd highest in Asia and the figure is on par with other African nations. As a comparison, Indonesia’s death rate is 12.2 per 100,000 while Singapore’s death rate is 2.8 per 100,000.

These are problems that can be solved by Malaysians if everyone has a shared responsibility to ensure safety on the roads. Of course, there are things that the government needs to improve such as law enforcement and safer road design. Perhaps it’s time for us Malaysians to focus on pressing matters close to home and to put more effort to make our roads safer.


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Alexander Wong