PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The menace of Mat Lajak - youngsters who ride modified bicycles and perform stunts on public roads, posing a hazard to road users and endangering their own lives - is spreading across Malaysia.
Initially a trend in Johor and Melaka states, these dangerous joyriders have now been spotted in Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur.
Two of the youths were killed in an accident in Johor on Wednesday evening (Jan 10) when a car rammed into them while they were racing on the road, police said.
"The accident caused the two cyclists to die on the spot while the two others suffered injuries," Pontian district police chief Superintendant Zakaria Abd Rahman.
These joyriders first caught national headlines in February last year (2017) when eight teenagers were killed, and another eight injured when a car hit their bicycles at 3.30am on a public road in Johor Baru. The 16 boys were aged between 13 and 17.
Police said they detained four boys who were riding dangerously on the road in Balik Pulau in Penang on Tuesday, while 11 were held in Kajang in Selangor on Sunday.
Recently, a three-minute video clip of Mat Lajak performing dangerous "Superman" stunts on a hilly, winding road in Teluk Bahang, Penang, went viral on social media.
The video also zooms in on a device attached to one bicycle, showing it travelling at up to 42 kph, excessive speed for a bicycle.
One of the boys was seen riding face down with his legs stretched out, in Superman's flight posture, with the other two crouching low to gain speed.
Riding fast while lying flat on their bicycles is dangerous as they are not sitting upright with feet in control of the pedals.
In Kajang, assistant police commissioner for the district Ahmad Dzaffir Mohd Yussof said police seized 11 "excessively modified" bicycles during Sunday's operation.
"Acting on complaints, we carried out an operation to nab members of the group. We do not want them to disturb the peace of the neighbourhood," he said.
When contacted, National Road Safety Council member Lee Lam Thye said he had received numerous complaints from all over the country, and felt parents should take an active role in keeping their children safe.
"Enough is enough. It is high time for families, especially parents ... to not allow (children) to ride these dangerous bicycles on public roads at night," he said.
"Unfortunately, this menace has become a trend. These teenagers do stunts on their modified bicycles on public roads that endanger themselves and other road users."
After the deadly February accident in Johor, Deputy Home Minister and a Johor MP, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, said: "This was an accident waiting to happen. I've encountered them from time to time, especially during weekends.
"They cycle without regard for other road users, sometimes against the traffic flow."