With an expected rise of the total number of registered vehicles in Malaysia to 28 million by 2018, a 5.3 percent increase from 2012, the government, along with the Road Transport Department (JPJ), plans to implement the use of RFID-enabled road-tracking stickers on vehicles.
The intention for using radio-frequency identification is to better enable government authorities to track vehicles, and in so doing help decrease crime and predict and monitor traffic congestion more efficiently. The installation of this technology – a "smart code" tag which will be embedded into a new road tax sticker – would come at no extra cost for the vehicle owners. The tags would also fit into the Malaysian Highway Authority's plan for electronic payment implementation without the presence of toll plazas.
Although the technology could do a lot of good, it also raises questions of security. The policy has also previously been widely criticized for causing interference and invasion of privacy in countries like Italy, the United Kingdom, and United States.
There is also concern over the possibility of authorities tracking cars of targeted but peaceful political activists – and also of the data being manipulated and falling into the wrong hands. Officials, however, were quick to respond by saying that the identification codes are encrypted. Still, there is no proper guarantee that the data will remain secure.
As per the government plan, the RFID implementation will take place over the course of the next three years and in multiple phases. "This October, we will begin the pilot stage of the RFID-base for VEP [Vehicle Entry Permit] tags for all types of vehicles – both local and foreign – which travel in and out of the Johor's [Malaysia-Singapore] border checkpoints," said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi to The Sun Daily.
The second and third phases, scheduled to be implemented in 2016 and 2017, would be to tag foreign-registered vehicles from Thailand, Brunei, and Indonesia.