The transport ministry says that improving road safety will remain one of its top priorities, and that it will continue its push on issues – and implement necessary policies – related to this, despite these sometimes being seen as unpopular measures.

Transport minister Anthony Loke cited the mandatory use of child car seats or child restraint system (CRS) in private vehicles as an example. He said that the government has stood firm in its decision to implement the ruling – which comes into effect in January – despite protests and negative reactions from certain quarters.

He stressed that the decision was never meant to trouble parents, but was vital because the absence of a CRS had proven fatal for a high number of children in many road accidents, Bernama reports.

“As the minister in charge of transport and road safety, I have to do this even though I’m being criticised for taking an unpopular measure, but I’m confident that this is the best move to ensure the safety of road users in the long run,” he told the national news agency in an interview.

“We know many quarters have been protesting and complaining that the CRS is becoming a burden, that it is expensive and troublesome. We anticipated this kind of feedback because every safety measure will take some time to be accepted and adopted by the people,” he added.

Loke said it was the same case when people questioned the rationality and importance of seat belts and helmets when the usage of these was made compulsory in the 1970s. “Now, Malaysia has reached quite a high level of compliance in the usage of seat belts and helmets compared to other countries in the region. So, we know that it is normal for a new measure to receive negative feedback at the beginning,” he said.

He reiterated that no stern action or summons will be imposed on drivers for the first six months of the implementation, with the period being meant to educate and familiarise the public with the new ruling.

“We want the people to really know and understand that the CRS is for safety. That is why the soft-landing approach is taken for the first phase of the implementation. This is like an educational or advocacy stage before the enforcement phase takes effect,” he said.

On complaints that child car seats were costly, Loke said he believed that the price would drop when the supply becomes higher than demand once the new ruling is enforced. He added that the government will help monitor the price of child car seats in the market, and has also discussed with the ministry of finance the possibility of dropping the excise duty on child car seats so that they can be priced cheaper.