The government has been asked to look into the implementation of digital car plates or e-plates, using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology. Making the call, former transport minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said that 95% of countries globally have already implemented the use of RFID digital car plate systems, and Malaysia should follow suit, The Star reports.

“That means only 5% of countries, including Malaysia, are using normal plates. Many of our neighbouring countries are using the e-plate system,” he said. Speaking at the Dewan Rakyat, he said that the cost of switching to a RFID-embedded plate could be absorbed from the existing registration fee of between RM150 and RM300 in the case of new vehicles.

“The amount can be used for placing the necessary components inside the e-plate,” he said. He added that the proposed new e-plate system can be implemented in phases. “We don’t have to make it compulsory, but we can start with this. With RFID, automatic number plate recognition can also be implemented,” he said.

If the topic sounds familiar, it is, because it has been suggested before. The call for standardised registration plates as well as embedding vehicle identification microchips in them is not new. In 2016, it was reported that the JPJ was aiming to have a standardised vehicle number plate system in place by 2017.

Existing vehicle registration plate specifications.

A similar proposal was also mooted in 2017 to introduce electronic plates, in which the embedded chip would contain information about the vehicle owner and driver as well as vehicle details such as the engine and chassis numbers plus the colour and model.

In 2021, the police also proposed the adoption of an e-plate, saying that it would allow identification of all vehicles in the country to be standardised. Then, former Bukit Aman criminal investigation department director Datuk Huzir Mohamed had said that it would also help combat increasingly sophisticated crime trends.

A chipped registration plate would enable enforcement officers, via the use of a handheld or dashboard-mounted chip reader, to verify details of a vehicle without having to flag down the motorist. Besides assisting authorities in the fight against vehicle thefts and car cloning, such a system would also help identify errant motorists who fail to pay their summonses.

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