KUALA LUMPUR – June 6, 2018: New Transport Minister Anthony Loke has won praises from the industry for his decision to solve the Takata airbags recall issue.
Starting next week, the Road Transport Department (RTD) will issue notices to car owners to replace their vehicles’ defective airbag inflator within 14 days.
Auto analyst Hezeri Samsuri described the move as necessary, especially since the recall progress has not even reached the halfway stage despite Malaysia recording its first air bag-related fatality four years ago.
For example, Toyota alone has 233,637 affected vehicles but only 71,986 or 38.11 per cent have got the defective airbags replaced.
“I think what Loke is doing is right even if he needs to break through the RTD’s policy to finally end the problem,” commented Hezeri.
The Takata airbags recall is the largest automotive recall to date, affecting millions of vehicles worldwide, including 799,963 in Malaysia but so far only 441,730 owners in the country have got their defective airbag inflator replaced.
Hezeri, however, cautions and agrees that some people may not be happy since Loke’s action was more against the owners of affected cars instead of the source of the problem, which is the manufacturer.
“Complaints will be there but I think in the end people will accept what he’s doing now since human lives are at stake.
“Just a few days ago another Malaysian fell victim to the defective Takata airbag, raising the total of such death to seven. How many more until Malaysians realise that this is serious?” asked Hezeri.
Road safety advocator Shahrim Tamrin also welcomed Loke’s decision to solve the issue.
“I’m sure many of the car owners suspect that their cars may be part of the recall. The problem is that they never bother to check and expect to be informed instead.
“In a lot of cases, manufacturers tried to reach out but to no avail since personal information like addresses and mobile phone number may not be updated.
“Loke’s move has never been done before, which also means he may be breaching some of the relevant procedures but the way I see it, he is desperate to save lives,” said Shahrim
Loke has said that after the first notice of 14 days, RTD will issue a second notice to remind car owners.
“If that notice is also ignored, we have no choice but to issue a summons, as this concerns road safety,” said Loke.
The summons could cost errant owners up to RM2,000 if brought to court.
If that doesn’t work, the last resort is to bar an owner from renewing the road tax, warned Loke.
In case of an accident, a defective airbag inflator could send shrapnels with tremendous force as illustrated below: