Beginning August 2014, all foreign-registered cars, lorries and trucks entering Singapore will have to pay extra upon entering its orders. For those not in the know, any foreign-registered vehicle, upon entering Singapore, must first be registered with the Singapore authorities. After registering with the Singapore authorities, a vehicle accreditation in the form of an Autopass card is then issued to the owner of the vehicle for that particular vehicle only.
With the issuance of the Autopass card, the vehicle’s registration has been formalized and is then allowed, until December 31 of that year, ten days free entry into Singapore (free entry being for the days when no free entry is normally applicable ie during weekdays between the hours of 4am til 6pm) as well as free vehicle entry on weekends and Singapore public holidays, and from the hours of 6pm til 4am (I think) on a weekday.
Should the owner of the vehicle were to enter Singapore, for whatever purpose, on a weekday, then the number of days that his or her vehicle resides in Singapore is deducted from the entitlement of the ten days free entry. Once the ten days has been totally used up, the vehicle in question is still allowed entry into Singapore but a rate of S$20 per day, the rate charged being termed as the VEP or the Vehicle Entry Permit. That’s how it roughly works for private vehicles. As for goods-carrying vehicles eg trucks and lorries, the VEP is S$10 per day.
But come August 2014, the VEP for private vehicles is revised from S$20 to S$35 and for goods-carrying vehicles, the increase is from S$10 to S$40 a day respectively. Quite a hefty jump, you must admit, especially for they who have to travel regularly in and out of Singapore by private car or those run a transport business transporting goods into Singapore or containers to the docks in Singapore. What is for sure it will definitely hit these transport business operators where it hurts most : their pockets, and up the chain, the companies who exports via Singapore.
However, as a sovereign nation, Singapore reserves the right to impose whatever rules and regulations they deem fit. As for the VEP itself, whether it is collected for the purpose of maintaining their highways and road system, or to build new roads or just for profit’s sake, its their right as a sovereign nation, and in so saying, whether the increase is arbitrary or after consultations, is for all-purpose and intent, irrelevant.
(Likewise, Malaysia is also a sovereign nation and as demonstrated in the case of the sale and supply of raw water, Malaysia and for that matter, Johor, reserves the right to sell it to anyone and at a price that Johor and Malaysia agrees is the right and fair price. But I digress.)
Now, back up a year and it was the season for all UMNO branches to hold their Annual General Meetings (AGMs), before the respective Divisional Annual Delegates Meeting (ADM- Divisional) were to be organized.
In one of these AGMs, a resolution to the Government to register ALL foreign registered vehicles entering Malaysia was tabled and adopted unanimously by the AGM in question. The resolution, in part, also called for a levy to be imposed on ALL foreign registered vehicles entering Malaysia, citing, as an example, the system practiced by Singapore, with part of the proceeds be used to defray maintenance costs for the existing infrastructure, projected to increase over time, and as well as to enhance, improve and add to the existing infrastructure, especially in the front-line states of Johor, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Perlis, Sarawak and Sabah. The likelihood that the said resolution be adopted by the AGM in question and ‘go all the way’ was never in doubt.
This was unlike on previous occasions when similar resolutions were shot down before they got beyond the proposal stage, for whatever reason imaginable, not least the unfounded notion that Singaporeans would not travel to or invest in Johor if a levy was imposed.
But as events have proven, the need to register ALL foreign vehicles entering Malaysia has imposed itself, fuelled by Malaysia’s concerns with regards to cross-border and internal security, criminal activities, smuggling and commercial fraud, amongst others.
Big Brother, some may say, have made its presence felt. But the reality the world over is that Big Brother is here to stay, in one form or another. Whether Big Brother choose to be a control freak and obnoxiously intrusive or otherwise, that’s depends very much on the issue at hand, to be pragmatic about the whole issue. You can’t have total security (aka police state an even that there is no guarantee) and total freedom (aka anarchy, where total lawlessness is the order of the day) go hand in hand. It’s a fine balance, I would say.
Hence, when the Menteri Besar of Johor, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Khalid bin Nordin, announced that a proposal to introduce a levy on all foreign registered vehicles Johor is on the table, most if not all, especially Singaporeans, assumed that it was tit-for tat for the increase in VEP charges as announced by Singapore. This DESPITE the resolution being adopted by the UMNO AGM and later by the respective ADM – Divisional a year ago.
All said, there’s a certain beauty and advantage to being a sovereign nation, and as mentioned earlier both Malaysia and Singapore are sovereign nations. The implementation of the Malaysian version of the VEP and Foreign Vehicle Registration has already been agreed to by the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Seri Najib himself.
That being the case, it is now a matter of planning and execution and hopefully, before long the whole system will be up and running. As it is, the Malaysian VEP is here to stay although it will not make its bow yet.
However, it is to be noted that the registration of foreign vehicles and the introduction of the VEP by Malaysia addresses part AND not the whole of the resolution.
It is acknowledged that to implement the resolution adopted by the AGM will take time and a lot of investment, notwithstanding the successful integration of services of several law enforcement agencies BUT the fact of the matter is that it is not impossible. In fact, it would not be wrong to say that its long overdue.
For Johoreans however, a pleasing aspect of the whole episode is that, with the announcement by Prime Minister Najib, it acknowledges the voices and wishes of the Johor people, telling them that they are being listened to. As no less than HRH The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim ibni AlMarhum Sultan Iskandar himself had mentioned during the opening of the latest Johor State Assembly sitting, when it comes to international relations with Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya must and should consult and pay heed to what the people of Johor have to say on Singapore-related issues that affects Johor.
After all, who else knows with whom we are dealing with better than us Johoreans?