Tag Archives: singapore

VEP :A mountain out of RM20 per entry?

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru (source : gerbangperdana.com.my)

The Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar, Johor Bahru
(source : gerbangperdana.com.my)

After two years since it’s intended implementation was first announced (please also see meandpolitics.wordpress.com on related posts – ‘VEP : An Act of Sabotage?’ as well as ‘Malaysia, Singapore, Johor and the VEP’), the never-ending saga of the implementation of the VEP (or Vehicle Entry Permit) for all foreign-registered cars entering Malaysia is finally over.

Or is it?

To understand the implementation of the program a lot better, a look at the JPJ website at https://vep.jpj.gov.my states that :-

  • ALL foreign –registered vehicles are to register with Road Transport Department (RTD or more commonly known by its Bahasa Malaysia acronym, JPJ). When registering the vehicles the vehicle owners have to produce the necessary documents eg proof of car ownership, insurance etc etc,
  • once registered with the JPJ, these vehicles will be issued non-transferable RFID tags. These RFID tags contains pertinent information with respect to the registered vehicle, and
  • these RFID tags are valid for 5 YEARS

And all these for a processing fee of RM10 (circa RM2.50 or SGD3.30, take your pick).

Once these vehicles are registered and issued the RFID tags, these cars are then permitted to enter the country at any time during that five (5) years the VEP is valid for.

On entering the country, these VEP-registered vehicles are charged a fee called the ROAD CHARGE (RC).  The RC is ….wait for it, RM20 (Yes, its RM20 only) and is charged PER ENTRY (Yes, its PER ENTRY).

The proceeds from the RC is used to offset road maintenance costs, amongst other things.

JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. ( BH JBH380G / METRO JB141J ) Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 untuk masuk ke Malaysia pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

After SO MANY DELAYS since its intended implementation was first announced in July 2014 by the Prime Minister himself, the system was finally and officially implemented on 1 November 2016, at the southern entry points of Johor Bahru (at the Causeway) and Gelang Patah (The Second Link).

And even that, it is not yet the finished article as there are exemptions, for one reason or another, currently in place for motor vehicles, government and diplomatic vehicles, as well as public transportation. It has been announced that some of the exemptions will be lifted while some of them will remain in place.

Now that it’s finally up and running, Malaysians have now to contend with the implied threat of retaliation from the Singapore government IF the system that Malaysia implemented is deemed to be discriminatory against Singapore, as reported by Singapore media.

Judging by the tone of the statement…… well, you know where its leading to. (Knowing which member of the Singapore media reported it will indicate to you that it is very very near and most likely to be an official stance of the government of Singapore.)

Come again? Does that mean that the sovereign government of Malaysia is being threatened with retaliation from Singapore for implementing a system designed to monitor and control traffic entering Malaysia? Like I said earlier, come again!?

It is public knowledge that ALL foreign-registered vehicles entering Singapore has to register with the Land Transport Authority of Singapore (LTA), with supporting documents (but of course).

Upon registering, a plastic card called the AUTOPASS is issued to the owners of these foreign-vehicles. One vehicle, one AUTOPASS.

The AUTOPASS basically controls the entry of your vehicle into Singapore and upon exit, tells you how much you have to fork out for driving on the roads of Singapore, what with the different gantries and charges and the likes.

Upon exiting, it is best to make sure your AUTOPASS has enough credit to pay for all these charges including the VEP (that is if you have used up your free quota of 10 days a year and that it’s not a weekend or a Singapore public holiday or not between the hours of 6pm to 6 am (I think)), otherwise you will be fined an additional sum of money for not having enough credit to begin with, all of which has to be paid PRIOR to exit.

But just how much is the Singapore VEP?

Last I checked, its SGD35 (RM105 or USD25 thereabouts) for private vehicles and SGD40 (RM120 or USD30 thereabouts) for commercial transport vehicles. That was when the then VEP rates were increased from SGD20 and SGD10 in August 2014.

Since then, I have not checked and it has been a long time since I checked.

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Sourced from NST : JOHOR BAHRU 01 NOVEMBER 2016. Kenderaan Singapura menggunakan sistem caj jalanraya (RC) dikenakan bayaran RM20 pada hari pertama perlaksanaan di Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar, Linkedua, Gelang Patah. NSTP/ZULKARNAIN AHMAD TAJUDDIN

Looking at them Singapore VEP rates, I guess that’s why my Malaysian friends who work in Singapore drive to work in Singapore-registered vehicles. Otherwise, they will be contributing more to Singapore that what they get paid by working in Singapore.

I mean, 10 VEP-free days can only go so far and people do work for more than 10 days in a year and yes, I do believe people work to get paid and not pay to work.

It works out for the betterment of the Singapore economy I guess. Auto traders have a business where people buy and sell cars, both new and second-hand. That plus the 10-year ruling, of course.

Workshops in Singapore too would be gainfully employed, with repair and servicing jobs. Otherwise, there might be one less economic activity in Singapore and lots more people with lots of idle time on their hands.

Now if the Singapore authorities want to ‘retaliate’ and ‘match’ Malaysia’s actions for daring to do what it just did, by all means, IF that ‘retaliation’ means that the Singapore VEP is reduced to the RM-equivalent of RM20 per entry.

But in all honesty, I seriously doubt that the Singapore authorities will ever reduce the VEP rates. Increase, yes. Reduce, hhmmmm. But miracles have been known to happen.

In the same tone, Malaysia can also claim that when Singapore implemented their VEP, it was discriminatory against Malaysia. I mean, is there any other country which has land links to the island? And was Malaysia ever consulted? What are the odds of that ever happening? Be consulted that is. And will it ever happen in the future? Your answer is as good as mine.

But seriously folks, is the Singapore government making a mountain out of RM20 per entry? IT IS PER ENTRY, you know. And the maximum a Singapore-registered vehicle or any foreign-registered vehicle for that matter, can stay in Malaysia is three (3) months. That’s theoretically RM0.22 (USD0.05, SGD0.07) per day for the maximum 90 days. Not even the price of a French fries at the neighbourhood McD, I would suggest.

And three months is definitely far longer than the period a FOREIGN national is permitted to come in and stay in Malaysia. Just have a look at your Singapore passports.

Being kiasu does have its limits you know. It may be the accepted norm in Singapore but when dealing with another country who is no less sovereign and independent than you are (as you would like to impress upon everybody), too much kiasu and it’ll border on being ridiculous, never mind offensive.

Thing is, no one’s laughing.

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An Accident Waiting To Happen?

The weekend of the 9th June saw my wife and I travelling up and down the North South Expressway (NSE), from Johor Bahru (JB) and back, with Kuala Pilah and Putrajaya forming part of the itinerary.

North South Expressway, from Bukit Kayu Hitam (N) to Johor Bahru (S)
(source : Wikipedia)

The plan was to send our son back to college for the new semester and then a sleepover at my beloved mother’s house in Putrajaya with a few errands in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Shah Alam thrown in as well. As our schedule was quite a busy one, we decided to make the drive back to JB at night. In preparation for the drive home, we took a short nap and a shower so as to get rid of the cobwebs of fatigue.

For those of us who have travelled up and down the NSE, especially at night, we have come to know what to expect. But despite knowing what to expect, the multitude of cars and the many F1 wannabe drivers never seems to amaze me whenever I make a journey up and down the NSE, be it for a long distance drive or a short distance one.

From my observations, the general speed limit of 110km per hr is often ignored especially when overtaking, what more the 90km per hr for the Simpang Ampat-Air Keroh stretch. Not many people pay heed to these speed limits, so much so that it does make you wonder whether it’s just best to forego having speed limits and leave these devil-may-care drivers to their own devices.

With speeding comes tailgating, naturally. These drivers would come from far behind to flash their headlights to make you get out of their way and woe is you if you do not heed their incessant flashing of headlights. These devils will drive so close to you that if you should suddenly had to apply the emergency brakes for some reason or another, chances are that you may be involved in a chain of crashes.

North South Highway (Air Keroh – Simpang Ampat stretch), heading towards Kuala Lumpur
(source : Wikipedia)

As for me, it’s really already annoying to see that the devils driving maniacally are young Malaysians in their 20s and early 30s, and some still with P stickers but it’s especially annoying to see Singapore-registered cars doing this as well. But as I have driven before in the island republic, it should not be a wonder as there, they too ignore the speed limits, what more when you have a long stretch of highway as we have here in Malaysia. Talk about ugly Malaysian drivers, these Singaporean drivers can make our ugly Malaysian drivers look angelic instead.

But as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Next time, take a drive on the NSE from KL all the way down to JB and you’ll know what I mean.

If these F1 wannabes are bad enough, wait til a bus or a lorry comes along. Admittedly, most of the bus and lorry drivers take great care in their driving and are very well aware that should an accident happen involving their vehicles, they will be the first to be looked at by the authorities. But once or twice or thrice in a while, you will get a F1 wannabe behind the wheels of these buses or lorries. When that happens, its best to get out of their way and let them through with a little prayer for those passengers in them buses.

No more of these please!
(source : thestar.com.my)

The authorities make the bus and transport companies paste a sticker behind their respective vehicles, printing the contact details of the authorities should we want to report any irresponsible and dangerous driving on the part of these drivers. But seriously, how many of us are able to jot these numbers down as they zoom past you?

And it does also make you wonder, would any corrective measures be taken should you make a complaint? Or would you get an unwanted escort the next time you are on the highway if you were to make a one?

I remember a time in the 1980s when civil servants of a certain rank were authorized, under the condition of anonymity, to report instances of dangerous driving. This was done as a mean to reduce road accidents through an increase in the enforcement of the law on the roads.

The theory was that, based on these reports, action will then be taken against these drivers for dangerous driving. To make the roads safer for the road users, so to speak. It worked well until one fine day, a civil servant, after making such a report, received a telephone call from the owner of a vehicle the civil servant had reported to the authorities. Of course, all hell broke loose as the condition of anonymity was busted. An inside job?

The relevant authorities best note that accidents do not only happen during festive seasons but also during off festive seasons. It is pointless to compile statistics of accidents happening during the Ops Sikap season when the same number of accidents can be recorded when there is no Ops Sikap.

Personally, I do think its high time for the authorities to take REAL action before it’s too late. Before you get a 30-car pile up with almost the same number or more, dead. And the dead are not all passengers of a bus, mind you. The thought would hurt especially the dead maybe your kin and family.

And when that happens, what then? Another study? Who are you going to blame? The guardrails? Get these devils off the roads now. More cameras on the expressways, if need be.

Or better still, bring back the road blocks and the speed traps. And if the authorities do conduct a speed trap, please vary the locations and timing. Try to not be so predictable. And as most people speed in the dead of the night, if need be then let’s have them after midnight. A little overtime for the people manning the road blocks? I’m sure the authorities can afford it.

Please, do this before it becomes a reality. All in the name of road safety.

Sweet Sounds of Music

When the passing of Whitney Houston was announced recently, I was quite taken aback. It was a Sunday and I was having drinks at a coffee shop in Singapore whilst my better half was running some errands in the vicinity of Pasir Panjang. I was reading the ticker on TV and as my order arrived, it was announced that Whitney was found dead in a hotel in Beverly Hills. My immediate reaction was a stunned silence.

It was not much different when Michael Jackson’s death was announced. I can’t remember what I was doing when they announced it but my reaction then was disbelief and sorrow.

These two musically gifted giants died when they were no more at the height of their popularity. Michael died when he was about to embark on a tour to resurrect his flagging career with a world tour.

The man who brought us countless unforgettable musical moments, the man who revolutionised the making of music videos, the man who introduced the Moonwalk, the man whose dance moves were much anticipated as was the release of his new musical masterpieces, died before he could even sing the first note of his new world tour.

If his intention was to revive his musical fortunes, then his death achieved what his world tour may not have done for him – resurrect interest in his music. It may sound cynical, but the world has not changed in this respect. It takes a death for someone to get noticed, and in Michael’s case, to get noticed again.

Today, Michael is once again recognized as the genius that he is. Or rather, he was. And like in ‘The Girl is Mine’, ‘there will be no other’.

As for Whitney, what more can be said about her that millions more have not. At her prime, she had THE VOICE and THE STYLE that was unmistakably Whitney’s. She was that special. There was a remark, I believe, made by Simon Cowell during one of the American Idol series, as an advice for female singers wanting to go far – Don’t do a Mariah, don’t do a Celine and for goodness sake, don’t do a Whitney.

The remark was apt. If you don’t have it, don’t try it, cos if you do, you’ll most probably suck. Totally. And for Whitney, that was one of the highest compliments that any one can possibly give.

True, she had her problems, some well documented and some widely publicised. Some unwanted, some unwarranted, some downright nasty. But then again, she is, after all, Whitney and hell, the whole world knows who Whitney is.

And now that she has passed, true to form, her music is suddenly back in vogue with demands for copies of her recordings far exceeding supply. Hopefully, as they lay her body to rest, all the negatives that has followed her in her life shall be buried with her and whats left to remember her by are just the positives.

The ways of the world dictates that whoever is born and lives shall wither and die some day. High born, low born, gifted or otherwise, it makes no difference. We are all, at the end of the day, just human after all and mere mortals whom death can make its acquaintance at any time.

There are other musically gifted artists that I have come to admire over the years, who have passed on. Luther Vandross, for one. His soothing soulful renditions, what can I say? ‘Dancing with my father’ still affects me the way that it did when I first heard it back then. And I sincerely believe Richard Marx never thought that his song could have been that beautiful.

Barry White is another. He has this unique voice that when you hear it, you know its him. For me, Barry White always reminds me of Ally McBeal and her gang of quirky lawyers. They were good for each other, Barry White and Ally McBeal. Each reminded me of the other and I believe, each made the other more famous than before.

For Malaysians, we still remember P Ramlee. For non-Malaysians, they may wonder just who is P Ramlee? Multi talented, he too received his recognition for his works in films and music after his passing. Posthumously decorated and honoured many times over, he passed away in 1974. That was more than 25 years ago and today he is still remembered for his works.

But prior to his passing, he was humiliated by so-called intellectuals, who branded his films and music as being outdated and of no intellectual content. Hounded and disgraced, he died penniless. Today, Malaysians of all ages remember him but none remember the so-called intellectuals who pronounced him the village dunce.

Over the years, there have been many of these musically gifted artists who have come and gone, regardless of where they come from. Lets just hope that they received recognition when they were still amongst us, and not only after they have gone. And that people also accept that they are also just human beings, mere mortals who are prone to making mistakes, like the rest of us. Then maybe the world would be a better, kinder and a more enriching place for all of us.

Talking about Property

I was browsing my regular news websites today and I came across an article carried by the Star Online, with regards to our very own local Malaysian housing developers and their association, REHDA.

Apparently, they had a meeting in Kota Kinabalu, our local Malaysian housing developers, afterwhich they pronounced to feeling burdened by the 30% requirement for low cost housing. They also wanted a detailed study to evaluate the requirement, with a view to a review.

The article went further to quote REHDA’s president questioning the number of low cost houses that are actually required, bearing in mind the many years of progress. Thereafter, our local Malaysian housing developers can consider building affordable houses, so that we can avoid the stigma of slums.

The article went further to mention that REHDA hopes the Government may reconsider the “Build first and sell” concept that will be enforced from 2015 onwards.

I must applaud the choice of our local Malaysian housing developers having their meeting in Kota Kinabalu. It has been ages since I was last there and I must make it a point to go there again. Maybe my wife and I can sample the golfing scene with our KK friends, whilst our collective bodies are able and our collective hearts are willing. But I am digressing, am I not?

I must, however, record my dismay with the statements quoted. It seems that some things never change. I am no property expert and therefore I cannot comment on the overall housing situation elsewhere in the country except as a potential house buyer and even that, only for Johor Bahru.

With regards to properties in Johor Bahru, I do not think I am the only person to have noticed that prices for reasonable homes in JB are a bit on the high side, to put it mildly. That even when comparing prices to that of Kuala Lumpur’s and its surrounding areas.

In addition, in my humble opinion, the impression that I get is it seems that most housing developers having projects in JB are not building homes for the locals but are targetting potential buyers from our neighbours to the south ie the Singaporeans as well as Malaysians working in Singapore.

A tour of most housing estates would, I believe, prove my point. Many have Singapore registered vehicles, red plated and otherwise. Some developers even have their model homes certified by a Singapore certification agency, and prices quoted in Singapore Dollar equivalents. Last time I checked, Johor is still part of Malaysia and the legal tender still has the picture of our very first Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

Slum areas? Whose fault is that, really? In my view, the developers must also share the blame alongside the local authorities and the residents. In trying to get that extra profit or even comply with the 30% requirement, has there been any attention given to the planning and layouts of these housing estates? Well, lets take a tour and maybe we can get a clearer picture.

Build First and then Sell? Why not? Or have we forgotten the events that unfolded during the financial crisis of 1997 and thereafter? What do we tell those people that ARE still paying for the numerous housing projects that were abandoned by you know who? The folly of it all, to believe the marketing gimmicks.

Sometimes, you wonder, who are the people behind those abandoned projects and where are they now? And are they still in the business, directly or indirectly? If you were to be one of them who ARE still paying for homes that may never materialise, how would you feel?

Don’t get me wrong. Be a conscientious developer, by all means. Respect the people FOR the people is the market. Make a profit, by all means. But make it a fair profit. And the market will respect and reward you.