So CVLB left a mess behind for SPAD. Should we act surprised? (Update #1)

IMPORTANT: If you are a commercial vehicle permit owner, you need to re-register your permit with the Land Public Transport Commission before 1 September 2011. See the relevant information here (from the SPAD website) or scroll down to the bottom of this post!

Update: Responses from TRANSIT and SPAD on the issue of the re-registration exercise have been published. Scroll down to the end for more information!

TRANSIT took note of this very interesting article in the Malay Mail, detailing some of the challenges faced by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) upon taking over from the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board since 1 January 2011.

CVLB was created by the CVLB Act 1987. Between 1 January 1988 and 31 December 2010 CVLB had the exclusive authority for road-based commercial transport (freight, public transport and commercial vehicles) in Malaysia – with the exception of Tourism vehicles (which were under the Tourism Ministry). Today, the CVLB is only responsible for Sabah & Sarawak.

SPAD, as you know, was “created” by the SPAD Act (Gazetted 1 June 2010), became an “official” government agency on 1 September 2010 and gained full authority over land public transport in Peninsular Malaysia on 1 January 2011.

Messy legacy: Land transport supremo ‘inherits’ problem-ridden CVLB (Malay Mail)
Shahrim Tamrin
Thursday, May 26th, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: In a move to establish a comprehensive database for commercial vehicles and operators, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) will face a daunting task with its re-registration exercise for transport operators.

They now have to start from scratch to build up its database of 87,705 operators managing more than 350,000 commercial vehicles, mostly due to poor record-keeping and management practices by the former Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).

Sources claimed commission officers, who took over the licensing board on Jan 31, were shocked when they discovered the state of the record-keeping.

Among the litany of gaffes the commission encountered are:

  • Files strewn all over the office floor
  • Filing cabinets left unorganised, with no proper record-tracking system
  • Incomplete and outdated records on permits issued to bus and taxi operators
  • Insufficient records on drivers’ details, as well as vehicle maintenance

Industry sources claimed the shoddy work by the former licensing board had left them with scant usable data.

SPAD Chair Syed Hamid Albar. Image courtesy of Malay Mail.

“When SPAD visited the disbanded CVLB office early this year, they found file folders strewn all over the floor. The commission was shocked to find an incomplete database and missing records. It was later discovered some of the files could not be traced,” the source said.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar (pic) said earlier this week they found CVLB’s database and record-keeping less than satisfactory.

“The database was incomplete and not in order. There was no proper Information Management System (IMS) and the available data did not fit our requirements to transform the transport industry.”

He said the commission was also aiming to weed out ‘Ali-Baba’ practices and ‘rent-seekers’ by irresponsible operators and the oversupplying of permits.

“Transport operators must re-register before Sept 30 or else the permits/licence will be canceled by the commission. This exercise is among the first steps to facilitate the database migration from vehicle-based to operator-based licences to identify errant operators. We want to ensure there are only genuine licence or permit holders.

“We want to build comprehensive and reliable records with our own IMS. If possible, we want to replicate the police and Road Transport Department’s database where information is integrated.

“We want to be in control of commercial drivers’ details,” he said, adding a good database would assist strict enforcement of regulations on taxis, buses and freight transporters.

Syed Hamid said the commission would do whatever it took to ensure the public transport system had a good grounding, even if it meant having to send officers down to the ground to re-register the operators.

The re-registration move has ruffled a few feathers and has been a source of contention among transport operators who claim it is inconveniencing them and unnecessary due to the overwhelming number of documentation involved.

TRANSIT Says:

Often when a new government organization takes over from an older one (especially in “less-than-ideal” circumstances) there is often a period of time where the new organization gets to “blame” the older organization for all the problems that existed. During this period, the public and others are generally expected to give the new organization some room to adjust and takeover.

In the United States of America they have the “first 100 days” of a new presidency … something that we have adopted in Malaysia as well.

Also interesting to note is that sometimes a departing organization will leave a mess behind. Sometimes this is an attempt at humour. For example, when George W. Bush took over from Bill Clinton as US. President, the new White House staff found that all the “W” keys on every computer keyboard had been removed – a prank by Clinton staffers.

Sometimes it happens because there is “no point” in keeping the work going when new people are going to take over. And sometimes it is more insidious, like the shredding of documents and records to ensure that the new organization cannot trace information back to their original sources.

Knowing all that, what can we say about the revelations about the CVLB and the state of their offices and data once SPAD took over?

Well, first of all, we are not surprised. TRANSIT has had a very negative view of the CVLB for a very long time and we have clearly pointed to the CVLB as the major source (but not the only source) of problems within the public transport industry in Malaysia. It’s not meant to be political – but we just do not like the CVLB because of their inability & refusal to act to improve public transport in this country – that is, until SPAD came on to the scene.

Second, we understand that people in SPAD may be highlighting some of these details to help the public understand how bad the existing situation is – and to highlight the need for re-registration and to build a new information management system for SPAD. That will of course require tenders and government money – and of course there is potential for kickbacks – doubly so if they design their own “IMS” and then have to redesign it in order to integrate it with the Police & JPJ’s system(s).

Third, we believe that it is quite possible that certain people at the CVLB may have left some gifts behind for SPAD in order to make the takeover process as hard as possible. Not to mention, make it harder for SPAD to find all the information they need. Considering some of the things that TRANSIT has been told, it would not be out of line to consider a forensic audit of the CVLB.

The next article discusses another part of the “messy legacy” – the need to re-register commercial vehicle operators and the challenge that is being faced.

Slow response

HASSLE: Long wait for transport operators to re-register particulars at SPAD’s counter in Putrajaya — Pic: Samsul Said

TRANSPORT operators have so far offered subdued response to the Land Public Transport Commission’s (SPAD) six-month re-registration period, launched on April 1.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar admitted the response from transport operators wasn’t encouraging and urged them to do so to avoid last minute slip-ups.

[TRANSIT: We know how people can be about leaving things to the “last minute” – hopefully SPAD will offer positive incentives to encourage people to re-register earlier – as well as negative consequences for those that wait until it is too late. SPAD says they will revoke permits, but we can imagine that some operators will run crying to the PM begging for an extension – an insult to their colleagues who re-registered early!]

“As of May 20, only seven per cent out of 87,705 operators managing more than 350,000 commercial vehicles which include buses, taxis, lorries and freights have re-registered with us. The commission has received 6,356 submissions with only 1,863 have been verified so far,” he said.

It is learnt the transport operators were not happy with the amount of documents requested by SPAD to complete the re-registration process. Some were irked to find out at least 13 documents must be submitted to the commission.

For each submission, a transport company needs to provide photostat copies of the vehicle registration card, the permit, owner’s identity card, particulars of the driver, three months’ bank statements of the operator and others.

Realising the massive expectation ahead and SPAD’s manpower shortage, Syed Hamid said: “We already anticipate the enormous documentations in this exercise. We have outlined several steps to cope with the pile of documents in our regional offices and should there be last-minute frenzy end of September, we will rope in temporary staff.”

“If necessary, officers from regional offices would meet the operators to collate the documents and conduct the re-registration in small towns and rural areas.”

TRANSIT Says:

We cannot imagine that this re-registration exercise will be easy for operators or SPAD – but it is necessary thanks to the legacy of the CVLB. TRANSIT’s Moaz Yusuf Ahmad relates his own personal experience with a former CVLB Director who categorically rejected the idea of a parliamentary committee on public transportation when it was suggested by Moaz at the first National Summit on Public Transport in 2008. Perhaps there was just too much fear about what such a committee might uncover.

The next article details an often-present attitude that many people take when dealing with the government. It can be summarized in the phrase “aiyoh, why so strict lah?!?!?!” and is an unfortunate legacy of a government that is simply not strict enough and has indulged operators and the public for far too long.

‘Why burden us?’

BOTHER: Transport operators waiting to re-register at the SPAD office in Putrajaya — Pic: Samsul Said

TRANSPORT operators are not pleased with the re-registration exercise by Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Lorry Operators Association secretary-general Alvin Choong, said the exercise was unnecessary in view of the scale of information the commission is asking from them.

[TRANSIT: Sounds like whining to us. Ohmigod, this is going to require too much work. So what? You run a business and you are afraid of some hard work?]

“The long list of documents is illogical. Some lorry operators are illiterate and they might not be able to provide some of the documents,” he said.

[TRANSIT: Alvin, Alvin, ALVINNNN! (sorry, we had to throw in the Chipmunks reference) … ok, Alvin Choong, you run an association that is supposed to help lorry drivers. So help them find the documents. Done.]

He questioned the commission’s ability to handle the “Ali-Baba” permits issue.

“If SPAD ever manages to unearth the Ali-Baba permit holders, it would be a political disaster waiting to happen because most of the Ali-Baba permits are issued to influential people.”

[TRANSIT: Sounds like fun. Sometimes a bit of  political bloodletting is good for the soul of a nation.]

Choong said he believed the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board’s (CVLB) records were adequate and reliable as it was integrated with the Road Transport Department’s and police’s database.

“How do we know if SPAD’s database will be better since its employees also comprises former CVLB personnel?”

[TRANSIT: How do we know if certain Associations are trying to find excuses to avoid their responsibilities? Sorry, we have more faith in SPAD than we do the CVLB – and no matter what, the companies need to re-register. So get it done.]

When asked about the possible cancellation of permits if operators fail to re-register, Alvin said: “It won’t do any good to the country. SPAD would bring down the industry and damage the nation’s economy. In the end it will be the rakyat who suffer.”

[TRANSIT: We’re already suffering. Don’t you get that????? The industry is already falling apart! Don’t you get that???]

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali urged the commission to be practical in its effort to transform the industry.

[TRANSIT: PMBOA says “be practical”… read: be lenient or else we will be in serious trouble]

“The commission should simplify the process and not to make life difficult for the bus operators. The request for bank statements and drivers’ details are irrelevant for this re-registration exercise.

“Drivers come and go frequently. The turnover of drivers in the industry is high and it’s hard for us to keep track of their records,” said Mohamad Ashfar.

[TRANSIT: Sounds like another excuse to us – to justify shoddy records keeping. Sorry PMBOA, but this time you do not have any sympathy from us. If you want to avoid the hassle, get the word out to the bus operators that you represent and tell them to start the re-registration process now. The sooner they start, the sooner it will all be over.]

TRANSIT Says:

We sometimes get tired of people who whine and attempt to grasp at the flimsiest excuses, then rain down threats of doom and try to create an atmosphere of worry.

We understand that operators do not like to spend time dealing with the government and that is not unreasonable. But this time it is necessary. The operators and the government (and the public transport users, for that matter) need to start changing their habits and working together for the sake of saving (and hopefully improving) the public transport industry.

More articles:

Let’s get it done

For those operators who are more interested in just getting it done and getting back to business, TRANSIT has provided the relevant information below, taken from the Malay Mail article and the SPAD website.

Information on Re-Registration of permits

Documents apparently required for re-registration with SPAD. Table courtesy of The Malay Mail.

Click here for a larger version of the image above.

Visit http://www.spad.gov.my – click on the current banner to link to the re-registration page.

  • Further details here.
  • Re-registration form is here.
  • Re-registration circular is here

We hope that this information is helpful. Those who have further questions can call SPAD at 1-800-88-96-00 or email them (contact information is here).

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3 thoughts on “So CVLB left a mess behind for SPAD. Should we act surprised? (Update #1)”

  1. This time I hope SPAD will set the records right once and for all this time, we the Malaysians are already very very disgusted and tired of the thousands (collectively) of lives lost due to bus or public transport accidents. There is no mercy or trouble saving solutions in this matter, this matter involves safety and quality and most important of all it’s about human lives!!!!

  2. This sounds a lot like the adventures of KW Mak, MBPJ councillor, who contributes irregularly to the Nut Graph.

    In his place as a councillor, he tries to enforce council regulations on restaurants, hawkers and the like, but citizens/businessmen aren’t exactly supportive of his endeavors.

    It’s a Catch-22 situation, where he’s trying to enforce the law in the interest of the citizens, but the citizens aren’t used to enforcement, so they react negatively.

    In this case, it’s perhaps a lot like SPAD. Based on the Mail’s report, CVLB’s track record has been nothing but a mess. Hopefully SPAD gets it right, but their position is not enviable.

  3. TPS 5S:
    Select
    Sort
    Shine
    Standardise
    Sustain

    Housekeeping is in order. The mess does not get a say. Or at least not this time.

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