The Price of Freedom

“It’s a corrupted, time-consuming, self-esteem lowering farce that leaves you with broken dreams and a smaller wallet and eventually after three months, a license” are strong words Liam, ‘18, used to describe his experience when attempting his driver’s test recently.

Three long hours were spent as Liam waited to take his test. Once finally in the car, he was instructed to start his ignition. He then barely turned the wheel to pull out of his parking space when he was abruptly told to stop. Liam was presented with a choice: he could either pay 500 RM or fail the second part of his course. Feeling defeated and lacking the hard cash required; Liam accepted failure, despite not even demonstrating his driving ability.  Liam now must rebook his test which took two months to schedule in the first place.

It is hard to believe that driving assessors get away with such blatant corruption. Ironically, posters are splattered across the walls of the driving center urging aspiring drivers not accept any form of bribery. Foreign drivers are not given much of a choice, however, as the ultimatum is that they can either fail their test or decide to pay for their license.

Equally surprising in the process of driver’s education are the theory classes. Nina, ‘18, explains how she had to attend several classes lasting from ten in the morning to four in the afternoon to supposedly learn driving theory. However, most of the lesson turned into a sing-along as the instructor pulled out a guitar and proceeded to begin karaoke with little relevance to driving. Nina claims “they didn’t care about if you had learned something that day, you just needed to attend to be present.” She was lucky in her testing experience, as she faced no issues receiving her license. 

As for actually driving in Malaysia, Nina notes that it can be hectic at times. “If you can drive in Malaysia, you can drive everywhere. Here, they’re not really good drivers and no one is following the rules so you have to anticipate really well.” She now feels comfortable behind the wheel as she has been active on the road for several months. Despite the long process to get her license, Nina is confident the process is indeed worth the struggle, as she has gained an increased sense of freedom and independence.

Despite the long process to get her license, Nina is confident the process is indeed worth the struggle, as she has gained an increased sense of personal freedom and independence.