KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 – The Road Transport Department (JPJ) has reversed its decision to impose a new comprehensive health check on vocational drivers, saying that this only applies to new applications.
For renewal of the vocational driving licence — which is used by lorry and ride-hailing drivers — JPJ will use the old one-page sheet, instead of the new JPJL8A nine-page form.
“The decision to use the new forms for new licence applications was taken following discussions with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) on August 18,” said JPJ in a statement.
Meanwhile, the previous template of the form, JPJL8, will be used for annual renewal of the licence. This one-page form only requires a doctor to certify the applicant’s fitness for driving, without any questions about the applicant’s health status.
“However, this form will be studied by MOH for amendments, which will be announced in two months,” JPJ said.
On August 20, JPJ issued a circular to MOH and MMA to fix a standard rate of RM80 for e-hailing drivers to do their medical examinations.
This did not sit well among e-hailing drivers as it would cause drivers to pay more. Malaysia E-Hailing Drivers Association (Mehda) president Daryl Chong reportedly claimed his association has already secured a low rate of RM20 to ease the burden of e-hailing drivers.
A total of 135 panel clinics nationwide was said to have agreed to the RM20 fee per person for Mehda members taking the medical examination.
Transport Minister Anthony Loke then said last week that JPJ would remove the RM80 ceiling fee provision from its L8A form, accusing clinics of taking advantage by charging commercial drivers the maximum regulated price for medical exams.
But doctors’ groups have defended the RM80 fee for the new health test, with the Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia (MPCAM) saying that check-ups could take up to 45 minutes in some complicated cases, three times as long as a 15-minute examination under the previous format.
Complaints were also made that the new health examination poses some stringent measures that could cause drivers to easily fail, with a claim going viral on WhatsApp that lorry drivers could not get their driving licence if they suffered heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
MPCAM president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said that that vocational driving licence applications under the new medical check-up will not be approved if applicants’ visual acuity exceeds 6/12 in at least one eye, of if they can’t hear a whisper.
Drivers also need to see a specialist to be cleared if they have hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes, he said.