95% of countries use digital car plates, time for Malaysia to do the same, says Dr Wee

By THE STAR | 22 March 2023

KUALA LUMPUR: It is time for Malaysia to implement digital car plates or e-plates, using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam).

According to the former transport minister, 95% of countries in the world have already implemented RFID digital car plate systems.

“That means only 5% of countries, including Malaysia, are using normal plates.

“Many of our neighbouring countries have used the e-plate system,” said Dr Wee, while debating the Transport Ministry’s allocation in Budget 2023 at the committee stage in Parliament today.

The MCA president also said new car purchases come with an additional charge of between RM150 and RM300 to purchase acrylic car plates.

“The amount can be used for placing the necessary components inside the e-plate,” added Dr Wee.

Dr Wee also said the proposed new e-plate system can be implemented in phases.

“We don’t have to make it compulsory, but we start with this (implementation in phases),” added Dr Wee.

Dr Wee also said e-plates will be able to curb car theft with the RFID technology.

“With the RFID, automatic number plate recognition can also be implemented,” added Dr Wee.

Meanwhile, Dr Wee urged the government to give more allocation to the Transport Ministry to carry out the digitalisation of the Road Transport Department (JPJ) which will benefit Malaysians in general.

Dr Wee said JPJ’s MySikap system is based on a “mainframe” system, which had been in place for over 20 years.

“It is time for digitalisation at the JPJ,” added Dr Wee.

In response, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said the e-plate system would not be compulsory for vehicle owners if it is introduced by Putrajaya.

Loke said making it compulsory would impose more costs on vehicle owners.

He said the e-plate system might be implemented gradually and for new vehicles.

“We will look into this issue along with changes to the system,” he added.

Loke also said the ministry’s digitalisation department is looking into replacing its current mainframe IT system into a cloud-based one.

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

“Some (former staff) went into the private sector," added Dr Wee.

“In what way will the Transport ministry help Apad contract officers and staff?” questioned Dr Wee.

Dr Wee said it was important to have skilled professionals in Apad, as it is an agency that regulates all forms of public transportation.

“We used to have an enforcement agency under SPAD. But now, there isn’t any.

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

“We will support any initiatives that will benefit the people,” added Dr Wee.