New Malaysian Transport Minister Says No More Bribery To Obtain Driving License

When Automologist LING took her driving test in the early noughties, the culture of paying a bit extra was prevalent. So this bit of news from the Transport Ministry of Malaysia is very much welcomed. 

When my ‘friend’ got her license way back in 2002, she was asked by the driving school if she wanted a “guaranteed pass”—in other words, would she like to bribe the invigilator to ensure that she passed her driving exams. Yes, my ‘friend’ did pay the then standard bribery fee (around 100 or 150 Ringgit then; her memory about it is fuzzy), not because she was a bad driver, but because it was understood by most that if you do not pay the bribe, the invigilator could fail you…just because.

The culture prevails until today, as driving schools offer “pakej sampai lulus”, which loosely translates to “guaranteed to pass package”. Stories floating around the Internet tell of how students are told, upon entering the car and before they even turned on the ignition, that they had already failed, because they did not pay the “sure pass” fee, and of students who hit obstacles but still pass the test because they had paid up, so to speak.

Image source: Rage

But no more. The freshly appointed Transport Minister of Malaysia, Anthony Loke, said the practice of ‘kopi’* license must stop, and that the testing process will be soon automated and monitored to avoid such shenanigans.

When speaking to media yesterday, Loke said that the circuit tests—which includes hill-driving, parking, 3-point turn, etc—will be automated and the on-the-road test will be monitored using dashboard cameras inside the test cars. If a student feels that he failed because of not paying the ‘duit kopi’*, he can make an appeal and the case will be reviewed using video evidence.

*For readers not from Malaysia, ‘kopi’ means coffee and ‘duit’ translates to money. Giving someone money to buy coffee is a metaphor for bribery. 

When I told this piece of news to my friend, who had failed his driving tests five times because, he believes, he refused to pay the ‘duit kopi’, he responded with “HAH!”, which I take to be old emotions of anger and frustration stirred up and mixed with new feelings of approval.

Funny thing is that the Ex-Deputy Transport Minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi, said, when asked by local Chinese-language daily, Sinchew, to comment that there was no such culture of bribing during his stint as Transport Minister, and that he has never heard of such thing. Hmm.

Moving on.

Loke also said that the Road Transport Department JPJ will be implementing an electronic bidding system for the selling of popular vehicle plate numbers. Previously, certain NGOs were selected to sell highly sought after numbers. (Usually anything with several 8s; Malaysians love that). But Loke said that all number place registration must go through JPJ now.

“All revenue must go to the government as we need the money,” he said. Can’t argue with that.

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