It has now died down a bit, the loud modified motorcycle exhaust issue, after transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said last week that offenders will face an interview and advocacy action from JPJ instead of a summons.

That came after negative reaction from the motorcycling public against allegedly overbearing enforcement by the police, JPJ and the department of environment against noisy motorcycle exhausts, enforcement of which started in mid-February. The politicians then sensed an opportunity, and picked the issue up. UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng were among those who made statements, and so was Bossku Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Another U-turn by the government? Wee refutes the allegations of a U-turn, saying that JPJ has always used advocacy first.

“Let me clarify that it has always been JPJ’s strategy to use advocacy and public education to inculcate road users on safe and community-friendly practices without resorting to issuing summonses straightaway. This has always been true even in regard to enforcement on the wrongful modifications of motorcycle exhausts, an issue which had been made viral of late,” Wee said yesterday in a Facebook post.

“The government understands that currently, many motorists including motorcyclists in areas with Movement Control Order (MCO), Recovery MCO, and Conditional MCO, depend on their vehicles for their livelihoods and are hard-pressed to be faced with punitive fines.

“However, many road and transport policies are made to protect the safety and health of motorists and pedestrians and the JPJ must continue to play its role in public advocacy and advice, without immediately resorting to summonses as alleged by many, including politicians such as the Bagan member of parliament,” he added, referring to Lim.

“Therefore, the allegation by Lim Guan Eng that the ministry or minister has forced any form of ‘U-Turn’ on this matter is false and misleading. The MP may have missed the statement issued by JPJ on 16 March, which explained the issue on exhaust, stating that JPJ takes the advocacy and advice approach first before any punitive action is taken against any offender,” the Ayer Hitam MP and MCA president added.

He explained that the advocacy-first approach is two-pronged. One is an interview notice under Section 114(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 (Act 333) for JPJ to provide guidance and advice for motorcyclists who had illegally modified their vehicles. Two is a vehicle inspection notice under Section 61(1) issued simultaneously with a notice to prevent use of a vehicle (PG1) under Section 59(1) of Act 333.

The minister says that these notices allow vehicle owners ample chance to repair or convert their exhausts to the permitted types within 10 days. They must provide JPJ with the proof of the conversion and they must turn up for the appointments as informed through the notices, which are not summonses.

Would the offenders show up, though? “Admittedly, JPJ has found that many who are given these notices have ignored them and failed to turn up for their appointments. Any illegal modification of motor vehicle exhausts may be subject to a compound of not more than RM300. If this is further ignored, one can be liable to be convicted in court, and be fined not more than RM2,000, or jailed not more than six months under Section 119 of Act 333,” Wee reminded.