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“We are confused, Will we be refunded?” Putrajaya please explain

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The Attorney-General’s Chambers’ (AGC) decision this week to halt prosecuting traffic offenders caught under the controversial Automated Enforcement System (AES) has spread confusion among motorists, say lawmakers.

MPs from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact were united in demanding Putrajaya explain whether or not it had carried out a full study of the legal implications in its haste to roll out the speed-trap camera system, which was seen as privatising traffic law enforcement to enrich certain companies favoured by the government.

Motorists caught by the AES speed cameras have been given a temporary reprieve after court action against them was halted this week. — Reuters pic

“Were not the legal elements that have now delayed the implementation of the AES identified by the Attorney-General all this while before the implementation of the AES?” asked Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, the BN MP for Pandan and the immediate past transport minister.

The MCA leader said that while A-G Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had the power to freeze prosecution on speedsters, he insisted “there needs to be an explanation on the cases that have been taken to court and where some offenders have paid their compounds”.

“Will the payments be refunded later?” Ong asked, adding his voice to a growing chorus criticising the RM700 million system that began in September with a pilot phase of 14 cameras.

The Road Transport Department (RTD) has pledged to roll out a total of 831 cameras by end-2013 to catch speeding motorists and prevent more road deaths.

The AGC has ordered a halt to all court proceedings related to the AES summonses to study legal issues that have been raised even as it said the tickets were still valid, it said in a statement issued on December 18.

PAS lawmaker Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider the A-G’s freeze had confused the public and its explanation to justify the suspension of prosecution had only proved there were weaknesses to the traffic enforcement law.

“People are confused now,” he said.

Ong wondered whether those who had paid their summonses would be refunded in light of the suspension of court action.

“Those summoned under the AES did not get summonses but only a notice… So here, there are weaknesses and loopholes in the AES law,” the Kuala Selangor MP said.

Dzulkefly’s colleague in the DAP, Tony Pua, said the current mess over the traffic enforcement was due to the government’s rush to roll out the AES without considering the legal implications.

“The AES was implemented hastily.

“Without any consideration, without thinking about the legal mechanism. And when you don’t think about the legal mechanism, this is what happens,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP said.

The Malaysian Insider had reported previously that Putrajaya was considering suspending the implementation of the system as it appeared to duplicate police speed traps along the highways.

It is understood that Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has been one of the few ministers who have been defending the implementation of the AES behind closed doors.

The police, who enforce the speeding laws, have said they will continue enforcement and carry on putting up mobile speed traps near the AES cameras, raising the prospect of dual fines for errant motorists.  –  MI