Media Statement by Johore DAP Policy Director and Senai State Assemblyperson, Wong Shu Qi on 3 July 2014 (Thursday):
The federal government must study thoroughly before making any decision to impose a levy on foreign registered vehicles which enter Malaysia through Johor Bahru, as well as improve the Johor Bahru public transportation system as soon as possible to reduce the burden on Malaysians
The latest announcement by the Singapore government to increase the levy on foreign-registered vehicles entering the nation has adversely affected all Malaysian migrant workers there especially those who travel to and from Singapore daily.
Any decision to impose a levy on foreign-registered vehicles entering Malaysia by our government must be studied thoroughly as it would affect most Malaysian families residing in Johor Bahru. This is because 206,136 Malaysians crossed the causeway into Singapore everyday in 2013 as they are migrant workers.
First of all, we should note that most Malaysians travelling daily using Malaysia-registered vehicles are mostly non-Singapore permanent residents (PR) and car-pool with other Malaysians to share the burden of the levy.
Secondly, quite a number of Singapore-registered vehicles that enter Malaysia especially on weekends are actually owned by Malaysians who are Singapore PR while most Singaporean tourists enter Malaysia by bus according to Datuk Tee Siew Kiong, the EXCO of Tourism.
Therefore, it’s clear that Malaysians are the victims of both the increment in the levy announced by Singapore, and the new levy on Singapore-registered vehicles if the Malaysian Cabinet agrees to implement the move.
There are two core issues that the Malaysian federal government and the Johor state government must take into consideration before making the decision. The increment in the levy by Singapore would not discourage Malaysians from crossing the causeway into Singapore to earn higher wages, as poor public transportation in Johor Bahru is the root cause of Malaysian migrant workers driving into Singapore to work.
While Singapore is a nation with first-world public transportation facilities, most Malaysians who are live in JB and travelling to Singapore everyday can’t rely on the Malaysian public transport service to go to the Johor Bahru CIQ. The lack of that “last mile” connection has forced many Malaysian families to own at least one private vehicle.
With the latest policy changes, we can foresee that a lot of Malaysians who used to drive a car may switch to using a motorcycle – a move that us likely to increase the rate of fatal accidents.
Meanwhile, World Bank statistics show that 47.2% of highly educated Malaysian expatriates are now residing in Singapore. According to research by Penang Institute, more than half of the Malaysian brain drain worldwide said that career prospects, social injustice, wages and benefits are the factors they decided to move to other countries to work.
The trend of brain drain especially to Singapore is definitely not going to be overturned by merely imposing a levy on foreign-registered vehicles. We regret that BN leaders do not understand the brain drain problem we have been facing more than four decades.
We hereby urge the federal government to study thoroughly before making any decision to impose a levy on foreign registered vehicles which enter Malaysia through Johor Bahru, and to immediately look into improving the Johor Bahru public transportation system as soon as possible to reduce the burden of Malaysians.
Wong Shu Qi