The government has plans to embed microchips in vehicle registration plates in a bid to put an end to fancy number plates. The 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, which could also help combat car theft and cloning, Sunday Mail reports.

“The introduction of microchips embedded in registration plates would have a multiple impact. It would put an end to fancy number plates produced by accessory dealers with absolute disregard to guidelines and specifications,” a high-ranking government source told the Sunday edition of Malay Mail, adding that the move could also see a reduction in vehicle thefts and car cloning, and bust errant motorists who fail to pay their summonses.

In such a system, a handheld or dashboard-mounted chip reader would enable enforcement officers to verify details without having to flag down the motorist. A comprehensive plan has been in the pipeline for some time now, and Transport Ministry senior officials are expected to make an announcement in due time.

Road Transport Department (JPJ) enforcement director Datuk V. Valluvan Veloo confirmed that efforts were under way to end the problem of fancy registration plates, but declined to comment on the microchipped registration plates. “We are putting a stop to these non-standard plates, which can be used as a tool for criminal activities, such as snatch theft,” he said.

Between 2013 and 2016, a total of 184,664 motorists were issued summonses for displaying fancy registration plates. Valluvan said among the most popular were variations of the word ‘BOSS’

“The numbers 8055 are the most commonly seen ones. The vehicle owner would typically have this stylised to spell the word ‘BOSS’, usually by rounding off the two 5s. Others we have seen are JAW 5 with the number 5 modified to look like S’, and the plate looking like ‘JAWS’,” he said.

In September 2016, it was reported that the JPJ obtained input and suggestions from stakeholders on a standardised vehicle number plate system, which will be put in place by the third quarter of this year.

“We are looking on how the number plates can be standardised and produced as a standard form across the country. Over the years, the authorities and the public have had to deal with the difficulty of identifying fancy or unclear number plates of vehicles,” deputy transport minister Datuk Aziz Kaprawi said then.

The authorities also have plans to introduce Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tracking on all vehicles via the road tax sticker. JPJ said this will allow for real-time monitoring of traffic conditions and help police track down criminals. It could also integrate the workings of the gateless gantry system for electronic toll payment and electronic road pricing (ERP) in the city centre. It was reported in 2015 that the RFID-in-road-tax tech will be deployed by 2018.