Media Statement by Johor DAP Policy Director and Senai State Assemblyperson Wong Shu Qi on 5th May 2015 (Tuesday):
To tear down the “wall of toll” between Johor Bahru and Singapore should be the topmost agenda at the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders’ Retreat
We are glad to know that the top leaders of two neighbouring countries are meeting again in its annual leaders’ retreat. In the midst of talks about High Speed Rail project and a new bridge, leaders of two countries should not neglect one of the foremost issues at hand, the “wall of toll” enacted by both governments.
Residents on both sides of the causeway who commute across frequently are victims of the “wall of toll” especially after the competition of toll increment last year. We cannot deny that consequently, there is a rise in the cost of doing business and communication between the two countries.
This is not a healthy development for the relationship of two closely-knitted neighbours. Especially if we are relying on each other for our respective developments. Currently, Iskandar Malaysia definitely needs investors from Singapore while while Malaysia offers land-scarce Singapore its landmass for development.
Leaders of the two countries need to acknowledge a few ground rules to ensure a healthier bilateral relationship.
Firstly, the “wall of toll” should be reduced or even demolished. There should not be any barrier that obstructs the free movement of people and information between the two countries. To develop an integrated ASEAN community, Malaysia and Singapore as important leaders in the region should be role models.
Secondly, making the immigration clearing process more efficient should be another important concern. We must not neglect the fact that custom checkpoints of both countries are the root causes of traffic congestions on the Causeway and the Second Link. The length of the bridge is not the issue at all. Regardless the length of the bridge, all vehicles will be congested either at the custom checkpoints or the bridge if immigration clearing process takes too long.
Therefore, leaders of two countries should not only look into the possibility of having joint-immigration clearance at a single custom checkpoint for the High Speed Rail; they should consider the overall simplification of immigration process at all entrances to improve connectivity.
Finally, while there is a plethora of issues, our leaders must not forget that border management is the underlying fundamental problem. It will continue to haunt both countries regardless of how many new bridges or infrastructure projects are being proposed and built.
Wong Shu Qi