How The Cub Became A Monster

Just pay a RM 18 deposit to get one on the road, it seemed. Named after the original Honda Cub model, it was essentially a made-for-city moped. The engines are now mostly noisy and smoky 2 stroke lawn mover sounding engines. To compound the problem, the kapchais are usually modified by owners to have mufflers removed and engine tuned to street race.

Relied upon by the poor and an entire industry of delivery services, it has become a cheap and indispensable mode of transport to circumvent traffic congestion, poor public transportation options and rising costs of owning a car. City Hall is now mulling the possibility of banning the humble kapchai to reduce carbon emissions. Quite unreasonable to me, as the cited problems are the accumulated results of years of tolerant or half-hearted enforcement.

The kapchais were allowed to run red lights, ride on kerbs and go against the flow of traffic with impunity or nary a warning. Now authorities are citing snatch thefts as a concern for allowing the kapchai. By closing one eye, we made conditions fertile for two wheeled thieves to get away.

Who would blink an eye if a kapchai rode on the kerb next to a pedestrian or rode against traffic flow, made illegal u-turns or crashed through red lights? Years of lawlessness turned the docile cub into a dangerous monster.

Night Riders

Sitting by a roadside tea stall somewhere between Serendah and Ulu Yam, I thought for a moment I was on Pangkor Island. There was a golden sunset, a coconut tree and a pack of motorcyclists.

Nevertheless, there was also a telltale sign to remind me of my actual location. Those are electric wires that overhang the track of the Electric Train Service. It runs parallel to Federal Route 1, for most parts, between Rawang and Tanjung Malim.

Along the way, I might look at some of the new stations, remnants of a few old ones and its historical impact on the landscape.

Panasonic GM-1, ISO 250, f5, 1/500 sec.