ABSTACT from ‘New Straight Times’: By Roger J. Duyong Twenty died and nine others seriously injured in what is described Malaysia’s worst express bus crash at a place called Bukit Gantang, near Taiping on the Peninsular Malaysia, on Tuesday. The unfortunate bus, driven by a man who had 13 unsettled road summonses, plunged into a ditch five meters below, about 4.30am on the steep highway road between Melaka and Butterworth, carrying 27 passengers. The bus driver was among those killed on the spot. Among those critically injured was an unidentified three-year-old child who was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Taiping Hospital, with at least seventeen others. Besides the toddler, the co-driver of the bus had sustained serious injuries to his body and was also warded in Taiping Hospital’s ICU. The passengers were mixtures of Malaysians, Indonesians, Nepalis and Vietnamese nationals, who were said to commute from Melaka to Butterworth. As widely reported in the media, the road was said to be in perfect condition despite a slight incline. The authorities believed that it was due to ‘human error’ that had caused the tragic accident.
But, as the police had revealed later in a press conference, the Bus Company itself also had an accumulated 19 unsettled summonses for breaking traffic rules. The Bus Company was ordered to stop operations immediately. Malaysia’s Prime Minister, His Right Honorable Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when officiating at a function in Kuala Lumpur, was saddened by the accident. He said that he had instructed a thorough investigation into the accident that shocked the nation. He hoped no similar accident would occur in the future. Transport Minister, Chan Kong Choy said his ministry was mulling the introduction of seat belts, have frequent tests on the drivers' health and record, and have two drivers in all long-distance express buses. More stringent measures are also in the pipeline to reduce road accidents involving express buses, were proposed by memebrs of the public who sick of the frequent freak accidents these days.