Media Statement by Johore DAP Policy Director and Senai State Assemblyperson, Wong Shu Qi on 22 July 2014 (Tuesday):
The BN-led federal and state government should do thorough research before implementing the VEP fee on Singapore-registered vehicles by year-end to reduce adverse impacts on the local economy.
No policy should be implemented without consultation with the people and thorough research, especially policies that would adversely affect the local economy and people’s daily lives with immediate effect.
A large number of Malaysian citizens who are working in Singapore commute daily between both nations using Singapore or Malaysia-registered vehicles. They are now the victims of two nations’ competing counter-policies which will burden them more financially.
While the majority of Malaysian migrant workers in Singapore take the bus, ride motorcycles or stay in rented accommodation in the city-state, some people have no choice but to commute daily using privately-owned vehicles, as there is a lack of connectivity within the public transport systems as well as a shortage in housing supply.
According to the New Straits Times, statistics from the Johor Customs Department showed that about 33.5 million vehicles had used the Second Link in Gelang Patah and 4.76 million had used the Causeway from January to June this year.
This means that approximately 184,000 vehicles use the Second Link and 26,000 vehicles use the Causeway per day, constituting very heavy traffic on a daily basis. To understand the impact of the new VEP fee on the greater Johor Bahru economy, the federal government should disclose the numbers of Singapore-registered vehicles and Malaysia-registered vehicles which commute everyday. In addition, the number of Malaysian citizens driving Singapore-registered vehicles should be disclosed too as they would be the first group to be affected.
All these figures are important in order for our lawmakers to decide if the Malaysian government should implement the VEP fee as otherwise, the decision will be seen as an emotional reaction and a retaliatory move against Singapore’s recent increment.
The fact is, any fees imposed on Singapore-registered vehicles would adversely affect local economy by reducing the disposable income of Malaysians who drive Singapore-registered vehicles but live and spend their money in greater Johor Bahru.
This would mean that their monthly disposable income would be reduced by RM400 or RM1,000 immediately if the government charges RM20 or RM50 on a basis of 20 working days, respectively.
The BN-led government must heed the call to improve greater JB’s public transportation infrastructure alongside the implementation of the VEP fee, to reduce the economic burden on the people affected. the lack of the “first mile” and “last mile” public transport connection between the home and the workplace are the main reasons that people drive to work.
However, the Malaysian government alone should not be responsible in tackling this issue. The Singapore government must also come up with solutions if they seriously want to reduce congestion within their city-state.
The number of buses travelling between Johor Bahru and Singapore Woodlands should be doubled at peak hours to reduce the waiting time of commuters at Customs. Otherwise, we will only see an increasing number of motorcyclists and deadly accidents if the public transport system is not improved.
Both Singapore and Malaysia governments should work together to solve the problem of congestion on both sides and not indulge in knee-jerk reactions and retaliatory moves, which would not be in the best interest of all parties.
It is absolutely crucial that the BN-led federal and state government conduct detailed and thorough research, so that adverse impacts on the local economy can be minmised.
Wong Shu Qi