Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Penang Ghost Rider (槟岛鬼骑士)

Photo taken from intranet source to illustrate how mat rempits look like.

In Malaysia, an illegal street racer is known as a ‘mat rempit’. These illegal street racers normally choose to race on straight and clear roads at night. There are many roads fond by these illegal racers and one particular frequent road in Penang is the coastal highway just in front of Free Trade Zone 3. Well, the story is not about ‘mat rempits’ but a lesser known local ‘ghost rider’. For one thing, ghost rider is not sole proprietor of the western world you know.

As usual, the Penang coastal way is used by many users including the ‘invisible’ ones. One of these ghostly users who used to roam at night is what I dubbed as the ‘Honda cup ghost rider’. This Penang ghost rider is claimed to have roamed between Batu Maung to somewhere before Tesco. No one really sees the actual face of this local ghost rider for it always turned its back to its spectators. From the back, this ghost rider always rides on an old Honda cup 70cc, it is seen to have worn a windbreaker jacket and a Bermuda pants.

On another side, allow me to furnish some back ground of this coastal highway: This highway has seen many deadly road accidents over the years and it is not a surprised that many of these accidents are caused by ‘mat rempits’. Some of my technicians in a former factory had lost their lives in road accidents along this coastal high way. Amongst the victims was a couple who planned to get married but only one survived to tell his side of the story.

Let us just call this couple as Siful and Minah. Siful was a season mat rempit and he had participated in many road racings in Penang and Prai too. Normally Saiful would race just after his evening shift (somewhere after 9pm) during weekends when the traffic is less.

As the story goes, this was just another Saturday night after Saiful has knocked off from his shift. After a short supper, he rode on his 125cc Suzuki to fetch Minah to the usual starting point opposite the factory he worked in. There were already many mat rempits waiting. After a while, many spectators started to gather along the coastal high way and the race started at 10pm sharp.

Saiful was a season motorcycle racer and not surprised that he had taken the lead as soon as the race has started. Before he would raise his hands and pronounce his victory, Saiful suddenly saw an old Honda cup riding slowly in front of him. Saiful thought that he would quickly overtakes the old Honda cup and then takes a U-turn back to the starting point to claim his prize.

Surprisingly speaking, no matter how fast Saiful went; his Suzuki could never pass the slower Honda cup. Saiful persisted for a while and his Suzuki finally approached the Honda cup and as a sense of success rose in his heart, the Honda cup rider suddenly turned his head towards Saiful and there wasn’t anything under the windbreaker hood; it was just plain and hollow! Saiful panic and lost his balance.

At that point, Saiful was going at somewhere around 120km/hour and a slight off balance caused his bike to ram onto the wall of a flyover in front. Consequently Saiful was seriously hurt and Minah lost her life.

At a later date when I visited Saiful in the hospital, he told me this story. Some mat rempits who visited Saiful claimed that they have not seen any Honda cup around. What was there was Saiful speeding towards the dark empty road for no apparent reason.

It is said that the ghostly Penang ghost rider still roams that stretch of the road at night, but if you drive carefully; then it will not harm you.

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