It is an open secret that political parties are not in the business to lose elections. Indeed, nobody believes any political organisation which claims to put country before party, no matter how often they repeat it.
If, in fact, Mr Mark Golding, the leader of the Opposition People's National Party (PNP), subscribed to the idea of putting country before party he would have supported the Government's firm stance against the unruly motorists who have thousands of outstanding traffic tickets dating back years.
Salivating, no doubt, over the prospect of drawing some votes from among angry taxi operators — the main culprits in the traffic tickets saga — Mr Golding last week begged the Government to extend the payment deadline for the offenders.
We expect that Mr Golding, and others of his ilk, will relish the chaos at the traffic courts yesterday, using it as justification for their unwise effort to get the Government to soften its position and allow the traffic offenders to have their way.
These offenders have, for years, thumbed their noses at the road traffic laws, running up large numbers of tickets — which they had no intention of paying, no matter how many amnesties were offered by a weak-kneed Administration — while the law-abiding road users suffered.
As Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang reminded us during the parliamentary discussion on the new Road Traffic (Reprieve and Nullification of Prescribed Notices) Act, 2023, which becomes effective tomorrow: "We have spent many hours discussing this issue. The individuals who are complaining now are not having five days [to today January 31]. They had four years, three years, two years, and they continued to breach the law and disrespect the law. They had [enough] time to go to court."
The new Act affords road users a period of reprieve to address outstanding matters related to the prescribed notice under section 116 of the Road Traffic Act, 1938, to pay off outstanding fines and nullify demerit points recorded against them prior to February 1, 2023.
Some 70 per cent of the drivers have already met the January 31 deadline to settle their outstanding debts. But there is a sizeable 30 per cent of drivers who would rather tear down the traffic ticketing system than pay. The Government is saying they should go to court to have their matter settled. It is on their behalf that Mr Golding is pleading.
"I don't think that this is a practical way of approaching it, but if that's the way the Government wants to deal with it, fair enough… It is not possible to do so because the courts are overwhelmed and can't give them a date for settling their liabilities," he contended.
This traffic ticket saga is a test of the Government's resolve. It is either going to continue standing firm on the side of law and order and discipline on the roads, or surrender to the road hogs who terrorise long-suffering motorists.
Of course, it is tempting to capitulate, as different Administrations have done many times before. The pool of votes that the traffic offenders represent is relatively substantial and the party hacks will hate to see the other party licking their proverbial chops.
But the ruling party must have faith in the electorate, believing that its political maturity will cause it to reward rather than punish it for doing the right thing.
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