Are fancy number plates the new status symbol?

DESPITE repeated reminders from the authorities, it would seem that some Malaysian motorists are adamant about displaying fancy number plates on their vehicles.

These allude to not just size, colour and font but more to those where the numbers and alphabets have been designed to read like a word or phrase. These do not include those that have been approved by the authorities such as the PATRIOT or MALAYSIA series.

Findings from a study conducted by the Centre for Governance and Political Studies in May last year to determine the type of cars most likely to break the Road Transport Department (JPJ) rules on license plates revealed that many of the offending plates were on luxury vehicles costing above RM160,000.

The study surmised that that 58.5% of the cars came from the T20 income group, 25.6% belonged to the M40 income group while only 15.9% came from the B40 lower-income group.

That would seem to indicate these fancy plates have become a new status symbol for the well-heeled. Not only are the owners of these vehicles openly thumbing their noses at the authorities but can also be said to be a vulgar display of wealth.

This is because the owners would have bid a substantial amount for certain plates that they feel can be manipulated to read as something else (eg their names).

Maybe the fines are not an effective deterrent. These currently range from just RM300 to RM3,000 for such offences under Section 14 (4) of the Road Transport Act 1987. This may be a small price to pay for the T20 segment who want a unique plate adorning their luxury vehicle.

Perhaps the law needs amending. Or perhaps by leveraging the power of the internet, the authorities should consider naming and shaming the offenders on social media. Another way in which these deviant car owners can be brought to task is by impounding their vehicles.

This piece is not spurred by envy but rather a need for Malaysian society to understand that the law applies equally to all.

These modified number plates –in addition to various other offends such as heavily-tinted glass windows – are a reminder that some T20 citizens seem to think they are above the law. There is no place in a progressive society for such flagrant displays of law-breaking.

JPJ had in the past urged members of the public to snap photos of offending vehicles with such registration plates and to report them via its social media platforms (or e-mail [email protected], along with other relevant details). – Oct 2, 2023

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