Transport minister Anthony Loke has said that he will have failed as a minister if road fatalities continue to increase at the end of his five-year mandate. Speaking to Astro Awani, he stressed the importance of lowering the death toll in Malaysia, adding that it was for the wellbeing of the people.

“In 2017, the number of road fatalities was 6,740 people. That means an average of 19 people die on the roads every day, and that number has to decrease,” he said. “At the end of these five years, if that number does not decrease, then I would have failed. I would be too embarrassed to remain a minister. That’s why I have made it my mission, my responsibility, to reduce the number of fatal accidents.”

Loke said that the government needs to employ stricter enforcement as well as a “carrot and stick” approach, providing incentives to encourage safer driving. One of the initiatives being looked into is a discount on insurance premiums if drivers do not incur summonses throughout the year. “I have discussed this scheme with a number of insurance companies, and we hope to implement it in the next few months,” he said.

The issue of the Automatic Enforcement System (AES) was also raised, with Loke saying that the government’s decision to continue with the controversial programme is not a U-turn on Pakatan Harapan’s stance before the general election. “We began our stricter enforcement not to trap drivers and collect the money; instead, we want to educate drivers so that they don’t go over the speed limit.

“So there’s no such thing as a U-turn on this issue. If we remove all AES [cameras] we will not have a means of effective traffic enforcement. There will surely be many accidents that would happen if there were no cameras, where drivers would speed up and so on. I was against the privatisation of AES, in which summonses would be paid to a private company, that was what I did not agree on,” he said.

Last year, the government wiped out four million AES summonses worth RM605 million as a gesture of goodwill as it geared up to take over operation of the system. However, it then installed stricter enforcement of the system on September 1 that did away with discounts or exceptions.

“Since September, the ministry found that the number of summonses fell. It means that road users feared summonses and were more aware, reducing the number of road accidents and especially the number of fatal accidents,” Loke said.