Last November, Malaysia decided to charge RM20 (S$6.40) for non-Malaysia registered cars (read: Singapore cars) entering Johor.
Singapore already warned that if there is discrimination against Singapore cars, we will match it in some form.
Yesterday, LTA announced that all foreign-registered cars (read: Malaysian cars) will have to pay a reciprocal road charge of S$6.60 when they enter Singapore.
This will kick in Feb 15 – 3 days after the end of Chinese New Year.
Some called this a “childish game” while others called it a “tit-for-tat”.
Some felt that it is the citizens who will suffer most from these policies.
These arguments are not wrong.
But for those who think that it is a coordinated move for both governments to collect more taxes – let’s put it this way.
Singapore doesn’t need to rely on the reciprocal road charge.
It’s not about the money. It’s a matter of principle.
Malaysia has a few border neighbours – Singapore, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia but Singaporeans are currently the only ones paying to enter Malaysia.
Until Malaysia decides to implement road charge at other borders, Thai vehicles will still be able to travel freely within 2km of the border.
Similar for Brunei. There’s a bridge to cross over to Malaysia and there’s no need to pay to use it.
According to Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, he said that Malaysia’s own road charge was not implemented in response to Singapore’s Vehicle Entry Permit Fee (VEP).
Let’s pause here for a second to understand what VEP means to Singapore.
VEP is basically implemented to maintain efficient road usage in Singapore.
With so many Malaysians working in Singapore, can you imagine how congested our roads will be if all Malaysians drive into our country?
It would be a huge problem and we were not going to let it happen.
That’s why in 1973, we implemented the VEP.
Malaysians could still continue to drive into Singapore and keep their vehicles here but they will need to pay a fee.
It used to be S$20 per day but we increased it to S$35 a few years ago.
So, yes, because of this policy, we don’t suffer from bangkok-like jams. But that’s not the only reason why VEP was implemented.
We all know by now that Singaporeans pay high Certificate of Entitlement (COE) fees to own a car in Singapore.
Can’t say the same for Malaysians.
Without VEP, Malaysians can buy a RM100,000 (S$33,000) car and drive in Singapore while Singaporeans need to fork out at least S$80,000 to own and drive a car in Singapore.
It obviously won’t be fair to Singaporean car owners.
Now, back to the point that Malaysia did not implement their road charge because of our VEP.
Yes, it’s a fact that Malaysia only introduced the road charge recently and they did not reciprocate when we implemented VEP in 1973.
But for those who think that “Singapore started it first”, we only did it for pragmatic reasons. And it’s in our national interests to do so.
It’s not sure why Malaysia decided to collect road charge from Singapore vehicles after some forty over years.
Until they implement the same at its border with Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia, it will be seen as discrimination against Singapore cars.
Either that or we’re seen as an easy source of revenue.
Singapore may be small but it doesn’t mean we should be trampled upon.
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