M'sian City Life #37: A Man Threatened To "Make Me Viral" After I Accidentally Hit His Car
Chew Jian Li returned to Malaysia for his studies break recently and decided to go on a road trip to Penang for a short getaway.
The excitement came to a halt when he got into a minor accident.
"A friend was visiting from London and we decided to spend the three-day weekend in Penang. The company was great, the music was infectious and we sang merrily along on the highway," Jian Li recalled.
"It seems that in the bumper-to-bumper traffic, my foot might have been a little light on the brakes, and the front of my old Honda - mind you, it is only two years younger than me - gently grazed the car in front of me, with the unfortunate result that it broke the number plate of the old, red Proton Perdana," the student at Imperial College London said.
The next few minutes passed in a blur
Jian Li and the other driver got down from their car and proceeded with the standard formalities they had to go through after getting into an accident. Unfortunately, the exchange of information was a one-sided affair.
The other driver took pictures of Jian Li's car plate number and then asked for his IC and driver's license. The 22-year-old was in a daze and didn't know how to react then, so it didn't occur to him that he should have done the same.
"Then he asked for my identification card (IC) and driver's licence, although he wouldn’t give his IC and driver's details to me."
The guy was quick to start negotiating on how much Jian Li should compensate him for the accident.
"In my naiveté, and being totally unfamiliar with the replacement cost for a car number plate, I proposed RM200," Jian Li said.
However, Jian Li's offer was not inadequate. The guy wanted more.
The man demanded a sum of RM300 as compensation, and nothing less than that.
On a flip side, it was somewhat a civilised and friendly conversation but make no mistake, as Jian Li noted that the guy was "projecting power and dominating the exchange".
"I don't want to make this go viral," the guy said, posing a veiled threat.
It was so subtle, that Jian Li only noticed it in hindsight.
"I didn't realise it was a threat at that time. I just felt guilty for being careless so I was even trying to make excuses for him afterwards," Jian Li said.
Jian Li had no knowledge that he was being ripped off by another person who was taking advantage of the situation until much later
"I didn't have the cash on hand to pay him. He left me his phone number and took mine to send me his bank account details, so I have those pieces of information. I ended up paying him the damages and he must have laughed his way to the bank."
"Fixing a broken licence plate costs RM25, and giving him RM100 would have been sufficient to compensate him for his inconvenience and time," Jian Li noted.
He paid a total of RM300 as compensation, just as the man had demanded.
"Upon my return from the trip, I learnt that as a civilian, he had no right to ask me for my documents without reciprocating. He obviously knew that I didn’t know what the cost of repairing the damage was, so he set the price very high. He didn’t even give me his full name," Jian Li commented.
"This was my first experience of being blackmailed on the road, and I am much wiser now for it. I don't expect to get my money back, but at the very least, I want to make this incident known to the public."
Some of his family and friends have come up to him to share their own experiences of dealing with others in the aftermath of accidents, where a few of them were even intimidated by gangsters and thugs. These gangsters and thugs would threaten the other party to pay up the amount that they have set, regardless of who is at fault.
Although he has the necessary details to potentially name and shame the other driver, Jian Li said that since they had agreed to settle the issue, he didn't want to be involved in an online fight.
"If you are involved in a similar situation and you are in the wrong, the takeaways are these: both parties have to agree to exchange IC and driver's licences; you should record the encounter so that you'll scare the opposite party away from threatening you; the police will be a good, neutral arbiter."
Living in the city ain’t a piece of cake but it could also be exciting and adventurous. How are you coping? How are you making the best out of things? Do you have a story or experience to share?
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