Service centres and workshops may soon need to obtain a licence to continue operations, as the automotive maintenance and repair service bill is set to be tabled in parliament in March.

According to Berita Harian, minister of domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism (KPDNKK) Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said that the laws are intended to assure consumers and protect their interests without neglecting industry players. He said that its enforcement will enable the industry to progress in line with the rapid development of technology whilst protecting consumer rights and interests.

“The ministry will produce a special licence to owners or operators of service centres and workshops,” said Hamzah. “This special licence will only be produced if certain requirements are met, such as employing accredited mechanics. We’ll treat mechanics as doctors, who are given licences according to their specialisation, and who would be committing an offence if they provided services without a valid licence.”

The bill was created after KPDNKK received consumer complaints regarding the service of workshops and service centres. It will also, among others, ensure these businesses operate according to their category and specialisation, said Hamzah.

“The three categories that have been finalised are engine repair, maintenance service and accessories such as tyres, while other categories will be defined in the near future, he said. “The regulations will need to be flexible and will be upgraded from time to time, in line with the ever-changing technologies in the automotive sector. For example, vehicles used to have fewer electronics, but now more and more are using them.

“Hence, when [the bill] is passed in parliament, we will call up service centre and workshop owners and operators to to explain it,” Hamzah said, adding that the ministry is being understanding regarding the change and does not intend to take away their livelihood or to inconvenience them.

“We will provide a timeframe. For those that already have a business, but do not have mechanics or workers with the right accreditation, they would need to send them for certain courses,” he said.

Hamzah said that KPDNKK will take action against those that fail to comply. However, it has yet to decide on the form of punishment, and is still in the discussion process. “Currently, there are around 30,000 workshop operators across the country. The enforcement is expected to raise the level of professionalism of mechanics, on par with other career fields,” he said.