Joint Media Statement by Andrew Chen Kah Eng, Liow Cai Tung, Cheo Yee How and Wong Shu Qi on 7th July 2014 (Monday):
If the BN-led federal government insists implementing the border charge imposed on foreign vehicles entering Johor Bahru, the money gained should be spent on improving local public transport and enhancing local economy.
This is not the first time that the issue of foreign vehicle entry charge is being raised. We do think however, that it’s timely for us to review the plan of our city transportation, and the direction of our development in a comprehensive manner, regardless of whether or not we are going to impose the charge.
We do regret that the Land Transport Authority of Singapore had decided earlier to increase the VEP from S$20 to S$35, which would adversely affect Malaysian citizens who travel frequently between the two cities.
Yet, we understand that both Singapore and Johor Bahru are facing traffic congestion problem with the increasing number of private vehicles, therefore certain policies must be implemented to curb the deteriorating traffic condition.
To reduce private vehicles on the road by imposing a charge is not a new policy and has been proven effective globally with other policies implemented at the same time.
Therefore, we do agree with the new border charge on foreign vehicles if a comprehensive plan to improve our public transport is implemented simultaneously. Otherwise, it will only prove that the border charge is merely a new income scheme for the federal government with no view of giving benefit for the local people.
Moreover, the new entry charge on foreign vehicles proposed by the Malaysian government must not just be a retaliation towards Singapore’s recent decision.
The border charge collected by our customs officers from foreign registered vehicles must be used towards improving the greater Johor Bahru public transport service. We must acknowledge the fact that Malaysians are forced to own private vehicles since there is no “last mile” connection in our public transport system.
On the other hand, even after imposing the charges on both sides, no one can guarantee there is no congestion at the customs checkpoint anymore. There is a need to cut waiting time on both sides and it should be a policy priority for both governments, especially on the Singapore’s side.
People who are driving, paying mortgage loan and wasting their time on being stuck in the congestion could have better quality of living by having more disposable income from not using private vehicles if the public transport system is designed as an alternative and is implemented perfectly.
Therefore, we urge the Johore State Government to fight for more allocation especially if the federal government is going to impose the border charge on foreign vehicles, to improve our local public transport system, reduce private vehicles on the road and improve our local economy through strengthening public transportation.
We understand the concerns of those in the retail trade and tourism as well as frequent commuters between both sides as the new policies by both governments would affect business adversely or increase financial burden on those affected. This is why it must not be an isolated policy without holistic thinking about public transport.
The purpose to have the entry charge of foreign vehicles is to reduce congestion; hence the revenue from the border charge imposed on foreign vehicles entering Johor Bahru should be spent on improving local public transport and enhancing local economy if the BN-led federal government insists on implementing the entry charge. Otherwise, it defeats the purpose of having the border charge.
Andrew Chen Kah Eng, Stulang State Assemblyperson
Liow Cai Tung, Johor Jaya State Assemblyperson
Cheo Yee How, Pengkalan Rinting State Assemblyperson
Wong Shu Qi, Senai State Assemblyperson