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The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA) wants the rising trend of car registration numbers being traded for big bucks outside the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to be restricted. It suggested an establishment of a task force to tackle the issue.

The association’s deputy president, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman, stated that various parties have turned the bidding into a business, resulting in the issue arising. “Although the system works for the highest bidder, most times, these numbers have already been pre-booked by agents and runners. This is unfair to those who really want the number and would like to buy it from JPJ directly,” he said.

“It’s understandable to have an agent or a runner if the number requested is an old number dating months or years back. But to apply this practice for new registration numbers is unfair and unnecessary,” he added.

Meanwhile, president of The Consumers’ Association of Subang and Shah Alam (Selangor), Jacob George, suggested that the task force be made up of independent members. “Years ago, the selling of numbers like this was done in secret. Now, it is openly done,” he claimed.

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On the other hand, Consumers Association Penang (CAP) however thinks a task force is unnecessary, as the matter should be wholly handled by the JPJ. Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the JPJ should not even be selling number plates in the first place, and that people should be putting their money elsewhere instead of number plates.

The JPJ, however, has come out to say that it can do nothing to stop bidders who flip these registration numbers by purchasing and then later, reselling them at higher prices to vehicle owners. “We do not pick and choose the people we sell the numbers to. So, the hoarding of registration number plates and reselling is not illegal,” said a JPJ spokesman.

He explained that the highest bidder would get the number plate following the procedure, which begins with the JPJ putting up the number plate for bidding with a minimum price tag. Prices start at RM300 for popular numbers, while the more enticing ones begin from the RM2,000 mark. The highly desirable numbers – single digit numbers and 10 – will have their bidding prices start from RM10,000.

From there, the bidding process begins, with the JPJ looking into the records of the bidders. “If the bidders are from companies, we will make sure they have a valid registration and are not foreign companies,” the spokesman stated.

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“Once the bidder has been confirmed, they need to pay 50% of the amount. After the money is collected, we will open the tender box and rank it,” he continued. The successful bidder will have to make the full payment to the JPJ within a month or risk having the number plate withdrawn.

From then on, buyers have the right to sell the registration numbers to others at a marked-up price. Although the starting prices may appear “reasonable” at first, the bidding process can escalate prices to well over RM100,000 as seen during the announcement of the “BMW” number plate winning tenders.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Should the JPJ set up a task force to curb the growing trend of car registration numbers being made into a big business, or should the matter be left alone? Let us know your thoughts on the topic below.