PETALING JAYA: Syed Hamid Albar, a former chairman of the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD), has disputed calls for the federal agency to be closed down, claiming it is needed for the transformation of public transport in Malaysia.
The former Barisan Nasional (BN) minister said SPAD had already shown success in strategically planning the sector.
“SPAD’s most important role is in planning, just like Singapore’s Land Transport Authority (LTA). There is nothing wrong with that,” he told FMT.
Two taxi groups – the KL Selangor Taxi Association and Persatuan Transformasi Pemandu Teksi Malaysia (PERS1M) – recently called on the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to abolish the commission and for the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to take over its functions.
Syed Hamid said the taxi bodies’ grievances with SPAD were in relation to licensing and enforcement, and that these roles could be taken over by JPJ.
He said prior to SPAD’s formation in 2010, no single agency had overseen all public transport systems, including bus and rail networks.
He said stakeholders had complained of issues with the different government agencies, leading to an overall restructuring under SPAD.
It was still important for SPAD to plan, advise and map out the future of the country’s public transport, he said.
Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Ashfar Ali also said SPAD should not be abolished.
“In fact, we hope that the government will strengthen SPAD’s enforcement and licensing powers,” he said.
He said PMBOA had urged the government to set up SPAD to take care of the planning and management of public transport.
Ashfar said SPAD should be given the power to issue and cancel licences for public service vehicles (PSV, for taxis and buses) and goods drivers (GDL, for commercial lorries).
“Presently, SPAD cannot blacklist errant drivers and has to depend on JPJ to do so.
“When buses are caught for speeding, SPAD goes after the companies and not the drivers,” he said, adding that giving SPAD authority over PSV and GDL licensing would allow it to enforce the law more effectively.
He also called on the government to assign a new minister to oversee SPAD to make it easier for stakeholders to direct their grievances.
“Under the SPAD Act, the minister in charge of SPAD is the prime minister and we could never meet the PM because he was too busy. So he delegated this function to a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, but it was difficult to meet him too,” he said.