Why Do Perak Number Plates Start With 'A'? The History Of Malaysian Car Plates Explained

It is because the first state to ever have a car is Perak.

Cover image via Facebook & Europlate via WapCar

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Have you ever wondered why vehicles in Perak bear the prefix 'A' for their number plates even though the name of the state starts with the letter 'P'?

Image via Facebook

While many might guess that Penang has the prefix 'P' because it was first to grab it, the primary reason is actually because Perak was the first state in Malaysia to ever have a car

According to a report by The Star published in July 2020, Perak began its number plate with the prefix 'A' in 1945 because the first vehicle owners were from the state.

It is reported that prior to this, vehicles in the state bore 'PK' number plates.

The change from 'PK' to 'A' came after the British Military Administration restarted the system that year as they did not want to be confused with number plates from Singapore, Selangor, Perak, and Penang, reported Tally Press.

Penang used to issue 'PG' number plates to vehicle owners in the state.

The number plates before the British Military Administration restarted the system.

Image via Europlate via WapCar

It is believed that Eu Tong Sen — the owner of the famous Eu Yan Sang Chinese medical hall — was the first vehicle owner in Malaysia

He was said to have brought the vehicle into Malaysia in 1902.

According to Eu Yan Sang's website, Eu's father — Eu Kong — started his first herbal shop in 1879 in Gopeng, Perak after leaving his home in Guangdong, China in 1873.

Eu spent his life dedicated to growing his family's mining and rubber plantation businesses and became a leading figure in the industry by 1920.

During that time, he always set up medical shops near to his operation centres to take care of the health of his workers, before eventually expanding beyond Gopeng and becoming the popular Chinese medical hall it is today, with franchises all over the world.

Even though Eu was said to be the first Malaysian to own a vehicle, his vehicle did not bear the 'A1' number plate.

Instead, it was British architect Claude Henry Labrooy who had the 'A1' number plate due to his extensive contribution to Ipoh's development, according to

Perak was said to have the most vehicles during the period thanks to the wealth generated from the tin ore industry

The Star reported that Selangor was given the number plate with the prefix 'B', as it was the second state to register car ownership.

This was followed by Pahang, which was given the prefix 'C', then Kelantan with the prefix 'D'.

These are the prefixes for each state and territory of Peninsular Malaysia, as reported by Free Malaysia Today:
– A: Perak
– B: Selangor
– C: Pahang
– D: Kelantan
– F: Putrajaya
– J: Johor
– K: Kedah
– M: Melaka
– N: Negeri Sembilan
– P: Penang
– R: Perlis
– T: Terengganu
– V: Kuala Lumpur
– W: Kuala Lumpur

When the W series of number plates was exhausted in 2013, Kuala Lumpur number plates had an additional alphabetical suffix added, for example, 'WTB 1956 A'.

This format failed to gain popularity, so a new 'V' prefix series was introduced in 2016.

Sabah was given the prefix 'S' after 1963.

Prior to that, the state had number plates beginning with 'E'.

Image via Carsome

Today, the state's number plates are categorised by different districts, as well as a specific prefix for government officials.

Here is the breakdown of Sabah's number plate prefixes by district:
– SA: West Coast
– SY: West Coast
– SB: Beaufort
– SD: Lahad Datu
– SK: Kudat
– SL: Labuan (now replaced by L)
– SS: Sandakan
– SM: Sandakan
– ST: Tawau
– SW: Tawau
– SU: Keningau
– SG: Sabah government

Sarawak was given the 'Q' prefix and its number plates are categorised by different districts as well

Here is the breakdown of Sarawak's number plate prefixes by district:
– QK: Kuching
– QA: Kuching
– QB: Sri Aman and Betong
– QC: Samarahan and Serian
– QL: Limbang
– QM: Miri
– QP: Kapit
– QR: Sarikei
– QS: Sibu and Mukah
– QT: Bintulu

Image via OpenRice

Free Malaysia Today reported that the prefix 'Z' is reserved for the military, and the prefix 'H' is reserved for taxis.

Some letters are excluded from the number plates, such as 'I' and 'O', due to their similarity to the shapes of numbers.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has many variations of 'vanity plates':

Here are some car-related hacks and tips:

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