Colin Charles Agenda

MyEG, JPJ, VicRoads on road taxes: the difference is trust?

On Twitter today, Christopher Tock stated:

If @myegclub cld have a service to notify road tax of a car nearing expiry date, I’m sure it’ll get more ppl to register under them! ;) #fb

I replied:

Instead, why not send new road tax one month before expiry by mail, and get payment via @myegclub ? @spinzer @nikicheong

Christopher then asked about the situation in which people don’t pay, and they receive their registration labels by mail. And Niki Cheong said that “many people try to find their way around paying for stuff here. ingrained in our lives”.

It got me thinking. In Victoria, Australia, VicRoads sends out registration labels and the certificate every year, about a month before expiry. You then head online, and pay for your registration using your credit card. I believe you might also be able to pay for it in cash at various locations (post office, etc.), though I’ve always done it online. You never ask – what if I don’t pay for it. You just do. I’m sure there are stiff penalties for lacking payment. But the process is easy – it comes to you, there’s no need to remember when things are expiring, and you can pay for it online, all without leaving the comfort of your home.

In Malaysia, JPJ does not remind you when your road tax is expiring. The onus is on you to know this. You then have to head to the post office to pay for it and get the registration label, and settle your insurance at the same time. Or you can avoid all this by sending it to your car’s service centre and they’ll take about two days to sort this out for you. Insurance can be paid via credit card, but your road tax needs to be in cash (or so UMW-Toyota tells me).

The government of Malaysia is heavily pushing their e-government services portal – MyEG. You can now renew your road tax online, thus getting rid of the whole visiting the post office or your manufacturer’s service centre. This is similar to what VicRoads does – you enter your registration number and it will tell you if you have a payment to be made or not. This is a step forward – except for the fact, that there is no reminder for you to renew your road tax!

Will it be hard to implement? Of course not. Part of the registration for MyEG includes you giving away your identity card (IC) number. A simple change to the database can ensure that you can tie several cars to your account and you can thus make payment on them. MyEG will know when the road tax is expiring, and a simple SMS message might suffice (bulk SMS costs are cheap). And if they’re more trusting, mailing out of the labels themselves!

But I guess Niki is right – it is ingrained that Malaysians might want to find away around the system, if the labels were sent out, pre-payment. Take a look at petrol kiosks: in Australia, you pump your petrol first, then go in to make the payment. You don’t think about running away after getting your full tank. You do this no matter how much petrol costs. In Malaysia, you pay for your petrol first. Either at the counter, or via credit card authorisation. No payment, no petrol.

I sincerely hope MyEG/JPJ figure this out at some stage. As we move towards a more knowledge-based economy, and the goals of the government certainly include getting Malaysia more in-tune with the rest of the First World, it probably makes sense that service delivery takes a notch up.

As a quick aside, do look at both the VicRoads and the JPJ website. Look at how the information is architected. How its presented. Its an interesting comparison. I wonder how many web designers go through this sort of thought process, when thinking about designing websites that are targeted for mass consumption of government services.