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What’s the charge?
The BMW that crashed into a group of devotees on KL-Seremban Highway. Pix by Saddam Yussof, NST

What’s the charge?

By Yamin Vong

What’s the charge?

Remember the BMW car on the highway that crashed into a group of devotees, killing three of them on their journey of penance for Thaipusam?

The driver who had sped off from the scene of the crash was identified within 24 hours because the car’s number plate had dropped off at the crash site.

Strangely enough, the car is now at a workshop in Kpg Subang and because of the notoriety, so many people have stopped to take photographs and selfies that the workshop owner, irritated by the attention, has thrown a cover over the car.

Isn’t it a bit quick for a car involved in three deaths to have been released so fast? Could there have been gratification provided to change the charge from Dangerous Driving to something lesser?

The case is now with Jalan Bandar Traffic Police and before we jump to conclusions, the police procedure is to get the Puspakom, the national vehicle road worthiness agency, to inspect the car for roadworthiness and legality.

Then if the Puspakom certifies that the car is of dubious origin – half cut or illegally modified – the Investigating Officer will request for a forensic investigation by the Chemistry Department. Probably, this car has been inspected and validated as a legal car by the Puspakom. A forensic report is not needed and the car would be
released as soon as possible because there is really no space at Jalan Bandar’s Traffic police station.

Further, this is a case of national interest and the Investigation Officer in charge will diligently follow procedure without exception. Another question that arises is why the Highway Authorities allowed a group to walk on the highway. This section of the highway is after the Sungei Besi Toll Plaza and heading towards Kuala Lumpur.

Could it be an unfortunate case of religious tolerance?

Malaysia’s sovereign fund invests in Uber
A group of Malaysian taxi drivers say that there is a conspiracy to support Uber because Malaysia’s sovereign fund, Khazanah, is invested in Uber.

Khazanah on its part confirms that it has investments in Uber, but only indirectly.

If anything, we should commend Khazanah for its buying into this tech stock which has seen a dizzy growth, reaching a valuation of USD62 billion in its last round of financing. Taxi drivers are right to be worried. But Uber is only one of the changes that will affect the taxi drivers.

In fact, the entire automotive industry is on the cusp of a change that will disrupt whole sectors of the economy.

General Motors Co. early this month announced a USD500 million investment in Lyft Inc, a ride-sharing app that rivals Uber Technologies.The long term plan is to develop a self-driving car that a Lyft user can hail.
The autonomous car is a vision shared by Uber Technologies founder and CEO Travis Kalacnick, and Alphabet, the new name for Google.

Dan Ammann, GM’s President, said that in the immediate future, GM would offer to rent its cars to Lyft and its drivers throughout the world. This would even include GrabCar, founded by a scion of the Tan Chong group, Ammann said in a Bloomberg Business report.

“GM is open to working with some of Lyft’s international partners, which include Didi Kuaidi in China, Ola in India and GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia,” Ammann said in the Bloomberg Business report.

Ammann called the investment an “alliance” with Lyft. Rather than stay neutral in the battle between Uber and Lyft, GM invested because of the “level of integration and cooperation that will be required, particularly for the longer term nature of this,” he said in the Bloomberg report.

Ammann, who joins Lyft’s board as part of the deal, expects the automotive industry to “change more in the next five years than it has in the last 50 and we obviously want to make sure we’re at the forefront of that change.”

VW’s dieselgate: Terror in the boardroom?
The latest update was a story from a German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Many of us never really bought the earlier story that the defeat software was a secret confined to a few top technical managers.

So the Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s expose that the cheating software was broadly known to most in the department was not a surprise.

The existance of defeat device software was known within Volkswagen’s engine development department by both staff and managers, the German newspaper said.

The report said that the problem started in 2006 when the engine development department chose to cheat rather than admit to the VW management board that its VW diesel engines could not meet US emission standards.

The open secret developed as a result of the Group’s strict corporate culture against failure and in Malaysia, the high turnover of staff in the early days of VW’s investment was an indication of the Board’s inflexibility.

The diesel scandal and the resignation of VW’s CEO, Martin Winterkorn, under whose watch the cover-up started, hopefully ushers in a new and more humane reign in this high-technology automotive group.

Certainly, VW’s diesel scandal is a good lesson on how CEO’s should not be such a terror that their subordinates prefer to cheat than tell the truth. Shooting the messenger of bad news is unsustainable.

Hopefully, the new CEO, Matthias Mueller sees that the truth can deliver a long term solution because people can work and openly debate and share ideas on how to solve the problem.

So far, the signs are encouraging.

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About Tony Yew

Tony Yew has been a motoring contributor to CBT since 2009 and took up a full time position in Oct 2015, as Web editor, Head of Digital Media. His role is to expand the reach of cbt.com.my and hope that the readers of CBT will continue to support this media.

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