Following a seemingly relentless crackdown by the police and other agencies, the authorities are now confident to declare that Penang is free of illegal motorcycle racing, or ‘mat rempit’ activities.
This intense and ongoing operation was the consequence of an infamous night in mid-July 2022 where a huge crowd of illegal racers and spectators were gathered along the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu expressway near the Penang Bridge interchange, a known hotspot, that left 5 men dead and 2 others seriously injured.
The public was enraged that such a large scale event was unnoticed by law enforcement, particularly given that many island residents in high rise buildings posted videos showing swarms of motorcycles convoying to the location from all directions, easily evading police patrols that PDRM claim were active that late night and early morning.
Penang now FREE of Mat Rempit!
According to the state’s police chief Shuhaily Mohd Zain, only minor incidents of dangerous riding have been reported and are being investigated.
“There were two or three arrests (involving ‘mat rempit’), but it was more about them trying to show off their superman-like stunts. We will not compromise and police will apply to remand them,”
Motorcycle and car thefts go up in Penang for 2022
“In the same period, motorcycle thefts went up by 1.2% to 515 cases this year compared to 509 cases last year. “Overall vehicle thefts for this year were up by 9.9% to 643 cases compared with 585 cases in 2021,” he added. This was in contrast to the significant spike in car thefts in Penang, rising by 57.6% to 104 cases to date in 2022 compared to just 65 cases by this point in 2021.
However, the real test will be if the authorities can keep ‘mat rempit’ activities curbed over the long term. Hardly a recent issue, the culture of illegal racing and dangerous motorcycle riding has persisted for decades - in every state, to varying degrees - no matter what enforcement measures (temporary or otherwise) have been introduced.
It’s only been a couple of months since that night of carnage. Declaring outright victory here might be more than a little premature.