Wee: Time to implement eplates

KUALA LUMPUR: Modern car registration plates that have radio frequency identification (RFID) technology embedded in them should be implemented in Malaysia, in tandem with many other developed countries, says former transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

According to him, 95% of countries in the world have already implemented RFID digital car plates.

“That means only 5% of countries, including Malaysia, are using normal plates,” said Dr Wee while debating the Transport Ministry’s allocation in Budget 2023 at the committee stage in Parliament yesterday.

He said new car purchases came with an additional charge of between RM150 and RM300 for conventional acrylic car plates.

“This amount can be used for placing the necessary components inside the eplate,” said Dr Wee, adding that the new eplate system could be implemented in phases.

“We don’t have to make it compulsory, but we start with this (implementation in phases),” he said, adding that the incorporation of RFID into the plates would also be able to curb car theft.

“With the RFID, automatic number plate recognition can also be implemented,” he said, urging the government to give more allocation to the Transport Ministry to carry out the digitalisation by the Road Transport Department (JPJ).

Dr Wee also said JPJ’s MySikap system was based on the mainframe system, which had been in place for over 20 years.

“It is time for digitalisation in JPJ,” he said, calling for greater expert staff retention measures by the ministry and its agencies.

He said many professionals were terminated or transferred after the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was dissolved and replaced by the Land Public Transport Agency (Apad) after 2018.

“Some (former staff) went into the private sector and some went ‘missing’,” said Dr Wee, adding that it was important to have skilled professionals in Apad as it was the agency that regulated all forms of land-based public transportation.

“It is time for us to relook at this issue, and it has been five years. We need to find a new direction and bring this up to the Cabinet so we can retain skilled staff in our system,” he said.

In response, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said if the eplate system was made compulsory, it would incur more costs to vehicle owners.

“If there is any implementation, we will not make this compulsory because many would complain.

“For existing vehicle owners, if we were to ask them to change car plates, surely there will be an additional cost,” said Loke during his ministerial winding-up speech yesterday.

He said if the proposal was accepted, it would gradually be implemented on new cars.

Loke also said the ministry’s Digitalisation Department was looking into replacing its current mainframe with a cloud-based system, though several security issues needed to be addressed before the mainframe-based system was replaced.

To this, Dr Wee interjected and asked whether the ministry was considering the involvement of auto-insurance companies in the implementation of digital car plates.

“Maybe we can also give a rebate to those who changed (their plates), and we can allow the installation to be done by accessories companies. I think this will harmonise the situation,” he said.

In response, Loke said auto insurance companies had proposed several initiatives on the matter, as digital car plates could reduce vehicle theft.

“We welcome insurance companies to give us their views and proposals to the government, and this includes the Vehicle Entry Permit project,” he said.

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