Why does Malaysia charge Singapore vehicles so much more?

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Listening to Malaysia make press statements is like listening to Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard trying to make a decision. Yes, but no, but yes, but no, but yes, but no…

At first they wanted to replace the causeway with a bridge, but after going as far as deploying construction equipment they changed their minds.

Then they wanted to prohibit Singapore registered vehicles from buying petrol. Then they changed their mind. And they changed it again. And again and finally they decided that Singapore cars can only buy high-grade fuels.

It’s the same with every “decision” they announce: a railway connecting Singapore to KL, a plan to have visa free travel between Singapore and JB and yes – the Vehicle Entry Permit.

Was there going to be a Vehicle Entry Permit needed? At first it was, then it wasn’t, then it was cancelled and then they announced that it wasn’t going to be cancelled… just deferred to a later date.

I drove into Johor Bahru last weekend and I shall confirm it for you: no there is no Vehicle Entry Permit needed. But it’s going to be a whole lot more expensive.

Here’s the toll you need to pay at the causeway:

  • Exit from Singapore – $3.80
    Entry to JB – RM$20
  • Exit from JB – RM$6.80
    Re-entry to Singapore – $2.70

A return trip to JB is going to cost Singaporeans $15.30

Is that a lot to pay? Well, let’s see who Malaysia’s border neighbours are paying.

In Thailand, they have an agreement that allows Thai vehicles to travel freely within 2km of the border. Otherwise, it’s RM$3.60. This has continued even after reports of abuse by Thai drivers.

In Brunei, there’s a bridge to cross and it costs only B$3 nothing to use it.

Singaporeans are the only ones paying almost $10 to Malaysia for the privilege of driving into JB. Their reason? That they want to match the amount we charge on Malaysian cars.

Silly reasoning isn’t it? Singapore imposes high charges because we are a small country with limited roads to use.

JB on the other hand, has strong economic reasons to encourage and even facilitate Singaporean visitors. If the grounds for raising fee is merely because ours was high, then it is just playground politics isn’t it? All it does is result in a childish tit-for-tat.

Singapore has a very strange relationship with our next door neighbour. They claim no exclusionary attitude towards us, but just like how the toll prices differ sharply for us – the press statements and their actions are remarkably different.

Do the Malaysians really have an issue with Singapore? Maybe they do. Or they don’t. Or they do. Or they don’t.

Maybe someday they’ll decide.

 

About the author

Benjamin Chiang

Benjamin Chiang is an enthusiast of good advertising, deep thinking, labour issues and chocolate. He writes also at www.rangosteen.com and occasionally on Yahoo!

The views expressed are his own.

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