KUALA LUMPUR: Mat Rempit are adamant that illegal racing is here to stay if there is no effort to legitimise the “sport.”
This is a direct rebuff to friendly overtures from politicians to bring them back to the fold.
The illegal racers say that if the authorities really want to take them off the streets, all they have to do is build decent and affordable race tracks for them to do their “thing.”
“They have been promising these things for a long time, but nothing much has been done so far,” said Fairuz, 24, a mechanic by day and racer by night.
The existing racetracks are inaccessible to the Mat Rempit because “we cannot afford the charges,” he said.
“As for the organised races, the competition is too tough for us,” said a fellow enthusiast named Zaki.
Fairuz said the Sepang track was too far away from the city to be an attractive venue for the Mat Rempit – most of whom were low-income earners.
“Why are there so many golf courses in the city and so few tracks? It looks like nobody bothers about us because we have no money,” he lamented.
Zaki, 25, added that Mat Rempit were not society’s trash as they were often made out to be.
“There are among us graduates from foreign universities as well as professionals, like architects and engineers,” said Zaki who himself is a professional in the IT industry.
He however conceded that the majority were despatch riders and mechanics.
Even then, all Mat Rempit should not be viewed with disdain just because of a few bad apples, he said.
“All this negativity about us stems from the activities of a small number who were reported beating up people and caught for vandalism,” said Zaki.
Fairuz concurred that Mat Rempit were not gangsters, just young men who thrived on the adrenalin rush from racing.
“Like other sports, we can get emotional in a race. Sometimes fights break out. Then again, it is just among ourselves,” he said.
Another racer named Kechik said Putera Umno’s plan to convert Mat Rempit into Mat Cemerlang would not work.
“Mat Rempit will gamely take part in government-organised roadshows and convoys. But after that, it’s back to their cliques and street racing,” said the 23-year-old university student.
Zaki said he was suspicious of the motives behind Mat Cemerlang.
“Looks like someone’s trying to get political mileage out of ‘taming’ us,” he said.