Thursday, June 18, 2009

The foreigner and Expatriate guide to driving in Malaysia

A couple of friends from overseas have emailed me to ask where they can rent cars and perhaps have a copy of the Malaysian Road Rules book. This stumped me as I searched high and low but seems that said book does not exist. However I have heard from a few villagers that the legendary book is around but has not been sighted since 1904.

Hence for the benefit of those interested in driving in Malaysia for the first time I have come up with a short FAQ to make your experience a pleasurable one. These set of rules have been adopted since 1901. No that is not a typo.

Q. What is the number one rule to observe?
A. The most important rule to observe is that you must be ahead of all cars regardless of your destination. All other rules subservient to this rule.

Q. Does Malaysia follow the UK (left side of the road) or US (right side of the road) to drive on?
A. Drivers drive on the left side. However only 99% follow this rule. 0.8% of drivers drive on the right side. And the remaining 0.2% are on the left most side, reversing because they missed their turning.

Q. What are the white lines painted on the road for?
A. These back during British colonial days were to help drivers stay in a straight line. Today in modern Malaysia, these lines are decorations because Malaysia is pretty and the government gladly uses up millions of Ringgit each year to decorate Malaysia Truly Asia.

Q. What are double lines painted on the road for?
A. These indicate that you may overtake when you are getting impatient because the car in front of you is too slow. Hence you can achieve the number 1 rule: Drivers must be infront at all times.

Q. I see Malaysia also have Emergency lanes on highways. What are they for?
A. This lane is only to be used during an emergency. Example you are late for work, late for class, your wife is about to give birth but is already safely at the hospital, you need to go to the toilet because of all that curry chicken you had for lunch. Driving on this lane permits you to drive at double the speed of other cars.

Q. Do traffic lights follow the rules in other countries?
A. Almost.
Green light means you can go.
Yellow/Amber means you must step on the pedal to accelerate.
Red means you must stop but only if there are other cars or a suspicious looking white vehicle parked near the lights. If not you may zoom as though the lights are green.

Q. What does "Dilarang masuk mean" ?
A. In Malay in means No Entry. It simply translates to "short-cut". Use this route to get to a parking spot the quickest way.

Q. On the highway, what does "pandu cermat" mean?
A. It translates to drive smart. You must drive as close as possible to the car infront so that other cars may not slip in. This also gives you an advantage because you will be close enough to overtake so you can achieve rule no 1. If you cannot see the drivers face, no if you cannot see the chili stuck between the drivers teeth in their rear view mirror you are not driving close enough.

Q. What is the speed limit on Malaysian highways?
A. The what?

Q. What are the road signs with the numbers 60, 80, 110 on your highways?
A. Those indicate the amount of money you have to pay a police officer in case they stop you. If you ask the police officer what was your offense, he or she may not know because no one really does. But just in case, slip that amount of money towards them give or take a few ringgit. This fine is then declared paid on the spot.

Q. Is that not a bribe?
A. No it is not. That is all. Now shooh! or "Jalan" as they say in Malaysia.

Q. Does a car need some form of WOF/COF roadworthy certificate to be able to drive it?
A. No a car does not need a WOF or COF or WTF or some type of certificate to drive it. As long as you have a valid drivers licence and valid road tax sticker you can drive the vehicle in any condition it is in. You must place as many cushions and plush toys at the back as you can to block your view outside the rear window.

Q. At some junctions, there are yellow boxes filled with diagonal lines. What are these for?
A .When traffic is building up, you cannot leave this box empty. You must drive your car onto this box and not allow any car to turn into the junction because if you are not able to be infront of others you must not allow other cars to reach their destination.

Q. Are handsfree headsets required when you need to asnwer phone calls while driving?
A. No. Handsfree sets are not required. You must answer the call to discuss with your kerlig (colleague) the limitations of the GXXS system because it cannot tally with the YXVVR system other companies use because your boss did not approve of the signing of the SSATP form 4 years ago. You were not able to voice out your concerns because your boss was a big fat tyrant and will have had you terminated if you did not go and pick up his children from their triangle music class.

Q. At a junction, is there a queue system?
A. No. It is optional to queue up. If you see any space avaible infront of that car, you may proceed to the very front of the queue because hey, you have to be at the front (see rule 1)

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