Company supervisor Izwan Isa, 39, and his four-year-old daughter Nurzulaikha Izwan were killed in the tragedy yesterday when a racing go-kart smashed plastic barriers and plunged onto the spectators by the side.
The wife and son also suffered serious injuries.
The family of four were part of the crowd watching Educational Innovation of Motorsports and Automotive Race (EIMARace), held near the Sukpa Complex in Indera Mahkota, Kuantan.
The race, was jointly- organised by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and the Pahang state government through Tourism Pahang, and participated by 51 teams from the country’s public and private universities.
While such races are a need for the advancement of our students, and supposed to be educational, as the go-karts were built and raced by students themselves, the safety aspect was obviously not given much priority by the organisers.
A video of the accident shows clearly that these powerful go-karts racing at top speed were only separated from the crowd by plastic barriers.
This says a lot on the fact that the very organisers did not even bother to study the safety of the public, other than merely thinking of getting the crowd in.
UTM is now saying that safety precautions were in line with recommendations by the Motorsports Association of Malaysia (MAM), the body which manages motoring sports in the country.
If that is so, then MAM better re-check their recommendations again, for plastic weighted barriers and tape on roads are definitely not enough to hold them back should go-karts of that weight go speeding or turning corners and crash.
Even mat rempits who may not have passed their science subjects know what speed can turn a lightweight vehicle into and race their vehicles on roads where the spectators stand far behind the road concrete barriers.
Two unnecessary deaths have occurred and for the students involved, they would be traumatised too, more so the driver of the go-kart who now fear what will come and who has to live with the tragedy haunting him for the rest of his life.
All, which could have been avoided, had the organisers shown a bit more care for the safety of the crowd and not tried to cut cost by merely putting plastic barriers.
This is quite a norm in Malaysia where many such races are held without the safety aspects of the public being taken into account. It is also sad because crowds bring families who are eager to show their children the love for science, for the main thing is not only to have fun, but to admire the way students have managed to build these go karts and are racing it themselves.
For the students, the go kart would have been efforts of thousands of hours and dedication, a step to being the engineers and designers they are hoping to be, and yet the organisers dashed their dreams by not thinking of safety of the crowd and merely putting plastic barriers.
The organisers should be hauled up by the law and be charged for the accident, for at the end of it all, they were responsible in getting the public in and keeping them safe.
This tragedy must not be the end of the EIMARace but must be a lesson to ensure that organisers in future will put safety of racers and crowd as its top priority.
Zakiah Koya@The Heat Malaysia Online