As every Malaysian knows, RM50 can go a long way on the highways. Most of us have a tale or two about getting off scot-free with the help of this lovely piece of paper.
The following is perhaps the funniest tale I've heard so far and it happened to my friend, M.
M and I live in the same compound here in Jakarta. She's Malaysian like me and the other night, I was over at her house for dinner. We spent hours after dinner just yakking about random stuff and eventually ended up trading stories about the usefulness of a RM50.
She was 17 then and a rookie driver who failed to keep an eye on her speedometer. A cop promptly pulled her over and told her sternly that she was waayyyy above her speed limit. At 17, she was still pretty blur about the code words that cops and errant drivers use on Malaysian roads. She was told that she would have to pay a hefty fine at a police station located far, far away. That should have been Clue Number One that the code phrase game was on but she didn't get it.
At 17, you really don't want to go home to Mum and tell her that you were pulled over for speeding AND ask for money for the fine AND ask to be driven far, far away to pay the fine. So she asked, "How ah? Can I pay the fine here on the spot? That police station you mentioned is very far from my house." Unknown to her, she had uttered the code phrases that the cop was waiting for. The cop kept up his stern visage, "Yes, you can pay here." What relief! Now she can perhaps keep it a secret from mum!
"How much is the fine if I pay it here on the spot?" The cop told her, "Fifty ringgit." Happily, she reached into her purse, extracted one of them and held it up to him. Horrified, the cop hissed, "Jangan tinggi sangat!!! Letak bawah ini!" (Not so high! Put it below this!) and handed her his clipboard. M thought it was some official protocol she had to follow and duly folded up the bill and stuck it under some papers on the clipboard he'd shoved into the car.
As the cop walked off, she called out after him, "Excuse me, tuan.... takde resit?" (Excuse me, sir... no receipt?)
It took her a few years to realise why there was no receipt and why the cop gave her a killer glare and told her to please drive off and never come back again.