Media Statement by Johor DAP Policy Director and Senai State Assemblyperson Wong Shu Qi on 7th August 2015 (Friday):
Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin should fight for Johoreans’ best interest in the VEP implementation
From October 1 onwards, the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) will be imposed on all foreign-registered cars entering Malaysia via Johor Bahru. This comes with a fee of RM20 and coupled with the existing Singapore-side VEP fee of S$35, it will definitely impact traveling patterns as it is.
Yet, it is very unfortunate that Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin who recently showed courage in criticising Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on the sacking of fellow Johor UMNO leader, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin, has yet to show the same courage to fight for the best interest of Johoreans in general in regards to the VEP.
Firstly, it is absolutely unfair to Johoreans that 75% of the VEP charge will go to the federal government. With the implementation of the VEP, local businesses will be the first and worst hit especially by the rise in travel cost. Thus, revenue should be kept and used locally and not directed to the federal coffer with more than 50% ratio.
We have proposed many times in and out of the state assembly that revenue collected should be used to assist local SMEs and SMIs. Besides, the fund should be prioritised for the provision and improvement of public transport in the state. This is so that we can reduce the traffic impact of having additional foreign-registered vehicles on our roads.
Secondly, there are not much details available even to lawmakers especially from the opposition, about how the VEP will be implemented apart from the implementation date, charge, and registration. Does the VEP charge all foreign vehicles 24/7 with no provision for free entry for example on holidays? If so, the local businesses will be graver, especially to those from the service sector. A more detailed policy should be drafted in consultation with all stakeholders, instead of this half-baked idea.
It is clear that a VEP system should be implemented to protect our national interest. However, it must not be implemented just for its own sake – rather, proper planning must first be done to ensure that the VEP achieves its goal with minimal adverse impact on Johoreans.
On the other hand, the Singaporean government has no right to criticise Malaysia-side VEP since Singapore has been practicing it for decades already. If VEP is as what the Singaporean Transport Minister said, “a discrimination” against Singapore-registered vehicles, then similarly, by the same logic, Malaysians have been discriminated by the Singaporean government’s unfair policy for the past few decades.
The fact is, both the Malaysian and Singaporean governments are not fostering a healthy bilateral relationship in the competition of toll charges increment and VEP implementation. It goes beyond saying that issues such as this are doing more harm than help to form closer ties among ASEAN countries. If countries like Malaysia and Singapore cannot even resolve an issue like boundary charge, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will only be a fairy tale. Both governments should instead work towards abolishing all border charges in the spirit of the AEC instead of competing on the toll rates.
Johor Bahru is the fast growing city that we Johoreans must take charge of. We should not risk allowing any half-baked policy drafted by the federal government that will eventually dampen the local market. I urge Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin, who was brave enough to criticise his party president on party position matters, to also fight for Johoreans for the best outcome on the VEP issue.
Wong Shu Qi