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According to the secretary-general of the ASEAN NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim, the tethergate issue involving the Proton Saga has been resolved after recent negotiations with the national carmaker, The Sun Daily reports. The top tether would be fitted by the automaker from this month onwards, ASEAN NCAP understands.

“Proton has promised to reinstall the top tether starting November, after we highlighted to them that the particular model underwent ASEAN NCAP test in January 2013 and received 58% marks for the child occupant protection (COP) for that particular top tether fitment,” the secretary-general said.

Kassim noted however, that ASEAN NCAP would continue to monitor the situation in the coming months. This, to ensure that the top tether would become a permanent fixture in the Saga. “We were also informed that Proton had received calls from 30 customers who already purchased the said model, for Proton to install the top tether as soon as possible in their cars,” he stated.

Top tether

top tether attachment

To recap, consumer complaints regarding the removal of the top tether fitment was relayed to ASEAN NCAP back in October. This prompted the safety body to issue a show cause letter to a Malaysian automaker.

Perodua was the first to respond to the issue, assuring that all of its vehicles complied to safety requirements and conformed to the safety ratings awarded by ASEAN NCAP. Proton’s response however, came shortly after, noting that while its cars complied to the regulatory safety standards, it could not confirm nor deny the statement issued by the ASEAN NCAP.

Only days later did Proton admit to being the Malaysian automaker in question. The reason given behind the omission, “the top tether was not a regulatory requirement for OEMs to fit in their cars at the point when the car was tested. Although we had complied with safety regulations and other required conditions in the country, we had overlooked in updating ASEAN NCAP on the omission of the top tether from the current Saga models.”

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Proton explained that the lack of a top tether did not affect the safety of Adult Occupancy Protection (AOP), as it is meant for the installation of child seats that are fitted with a top tether mechanism. In this case, child seats can still be fitted in the car through normal rear seat belt installation.

The Saga was given a one-star rating back in 2012. After having fitted an enhanced safety package, the car was crash tested again in 2013, gaining it a three-star rating, which has stayed in place until now. The issue was that the Proton Saga which scored a 58% result, had a top tether available at that time.

Proton is now rectifying this situation by offering current Saga owners free installations of top tethers. Customers are advised to call Proton Customer Care Hotline (1 800 88 8398) or email customercare@proton.com to schedule an appointment to do so.

The top tether is used as an additional anchorage point that limits the rotation of the seat in the case of a frontal impact. If you are using a child seat that doesn’t have a top tether anchorage in the first place, this doesn’t affect you.

Top tether (left) and support leg.

There are benefits to having some kind of additional anchorage like a top tether available, as it can improve crash performance. An alternative to top tether is a support leg, which is far more common in Malaysia compared to top tether. If you cannot find a child seat with top tether which suits you, or if your car doesn’t have a top tether point, look for a child seat with a support leg. A support leg doesn’t require any point on the vehicle to attach to. Instead, it rests against the floor.

However, this requires the floor it is resting on to be solid. For example, the middle second row seat of the Volkswagen Sharan has an underfloor storage area below it, and requires an accessory to be installed in the storage box for a child seat with a support leg to be used on that seat. So please check your car’s manual to be sure.

A Child Safety Day was recently held by the ASEAN NCAP. Aimed at educating motorists and parents on the importance of child safety on the road. A wide variety of affordable child seats from manufacturers such as Britax, Koopers, Safe ‘n Sound and Sweet Cherry were also on display, with promo prices starting from as low as RM299.