Registering professional engineers

  • Letters
  • Tuesday, 07 Jan 2020

ONE observation that can be made (and applauded) of the public healthcare fraternity in their action to prevent the abolition of the critical service allowance is their united stand in fighting for their right.

Is this the case in the other professions? Sadly, it’s not for the engineering profession, particularly in the private sector.

Since I am a registered engineer with the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), I feel there is a need to voice out something that I think should be addressed within the engineering fraternity.

Based on my observation, there is an alarming situation in the industry, and this is the weak enforcement of the Registration of Engineers Act 1967 (REA), which was last amended in 2015.

If we are talking about legal terms, it is actually mandatory for engineers to register with BEM before they can legally practise as engineers in Malaysia either as a graduate engineer (GE), professional engineer (Ir. PE) or a professional engineer with practising certificate (Ir. PEPC). All of these categories of registered engineers are mentioned in the REA.

Following are the facts to understand in order to appreciate the value of registered engineers:

i. For any engineer to register themselves as a GE, he/she must have graduated with an engineering degree which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Council (EAC) or any of the Washington Accord country signatories. Those with non-recognised engineering degrees will have problems for the purpose of this basic GE registration. Not only that, even engineering technologists are not legally qualified to register as a GE. They would need some top-up courses to allow them to do so.

From the early stage of becoming a GE, there should already have been some sort of strict quality control in place.

ii. From then on, for a GE to become a PE, an engineer must have obtained a minimum of three years’ experience as a GE. He/she must then subsequently pass the Professional Assessment Examination (PAE) or the Professional Interview (PI) to demonstrate his/her engineering competency.

iii. To become a PEPC, an engineer must have attained his/her PE status and then pass the notorious Professional Competency Examination (PCE) to demonstrate his/her competency and capacity to become Submitting Persons to Local Authorities for CCC (Certificate of Completion and Compliance) and to legally set up engineering consultancy practices (ECP).

As can be seen from these criteria, there are certain minimum requirements that must be fulfilled to become registered engineers. What I am trying to say here is the value of becoming registered engineers is not really being appreciated in the industry currently.

The question is: “How good is the enforcement of this basic legal requirement to register as registered engineers in actual practice?”

Sadly, this legal requirement of becoming registered engineers is not considered as a critical factor (or worse, may not even be of any consideration at all) by various companies in selecting the potential talent in the market to fill up their vacancies for engineers.

Worse still, you may find that certain companies even hire non-engineering graduates to fill up the positions as engineers. Yes, this is happening!

In the case of medical doctors, are non-medical degree graduates allowed to practise as doctors? The answer is a big no.

This is an utter disgrace for the engineering profession. When this happens, there are just simply loads of graduates (both registered engineers and unregistered/unrecognised engineers) in the market for the prospective employers to hire to fill up the positions as engineers.

This will bring down the level of pay/salary that fresh graduate engineers can demand of the said employers simply because the demand for the available engineering jobs is just too high.

Therefore, I urge BEM as the regulatory body for engineers to fully enforce this mandatory provision in the REA, and make sure that the entire engineering fraternity adheres to the registration requirements. Collaboration with other relevant organisations such as the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) and the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia (IEM), and also the government may be required for this purpose.

Enforcing this basic law fully would ensure that only recognised and registered engineering graduates are legally able to work as engineers in Malaysia. This will create a demand for registered engineers and eliminate the practice of hiring non-recognised engineers and non-engineering graduates. Eventually, there is some hope to probably raise the pay/salary of registered engineers.

This may be a bit harsh but some firmness is required to solve this issue.


Registered professional engineer with practising certificate (PEPC)

Kuala Lumpur

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