Media Statement by Johor DAP Publicity Secretary and Senai State Assemblyman Wong Shu Qi on 13th January 2017 (Friday):
The current toll war between Singapore and Malaysia will only create a toll wall between the two countries and cost more lives
It is very unfortunate that the Singapore of Transport Minister has officially admitted in parliament that the country will match the foreign vehicle’s road charge of Malaysia soon. With the announcement, the toll war between the two countries is escalating. I have warned of this in my previous statements since 2015. A toll war on both sides of the causeway essentially creates a toll wall alienating people, families and businesses in Johor and Singapore.
As such before the situation escalate and worsen, we desperately need greater political will from both governments to prevent this impending toll war.
First, Malaysian Transport Minister, Liow Tiong Lai should clarify if the road charge is equivalent to the Vehicle Entry Permit. If the road charge is actually the VEP, then it is very clear that Singapore government should not introduce an additional road charge as there is also a VEP system imposed by Singapore.
However, the RM20 road charge has been collected even before VEP system was implemented. This is probably the factor which triggered the latest toll war.
Although Liow Tiong Lai has always been left out in transport-related bilateral talks by UMNO government, I do not see why he cannot talk to his counterpart in Singapore to resolve this issue.
With our existing public transport infrastructure, I am pretty sure that the toll war/wall will lead us nowhere should the trend continues. Even if both Malaysia and Singapore governments want to encourage the use of public transport, the hike should be implemented after the Rapid Transit System is completed.
Yet, it is very clear that we are not adjusting the road charges based on the principle of reducing private vehicle use. It is merely a vicious circle of chauvinistic “you-hit-me-I-hit-you-back”. It does not reflect the ASEAN spirit of cooperation and much less the close affinity shared by Malaysia and Singapore as next door neighbours.
What is worse, this toll war/wall will adversely affect ordinary Malaysians and Singaporeans who travel across the causeway for work and other social and personal activities.
I have to remind both governments that an average of 8 lives are lost in a month due to the motorcycle accidents on the way to or back from Singapore. These are mostly Malaysians who commute daily to work and live between the two countries. There is a huge economic and social cost to both Malaysia and Singapore if transport policy along the causeway is not properly and amicably planned.
With the toll war threatening to escalate, and the shadow of the toll wall looming ever higher, we can foresee more lives affected, more road accidents and lower quality of life to people who need to travel daily between the two countries. I hereby urge both Transport Ministers to stop the toll war or be held responsible for the lives lost.
Wong Shu Qi