THE recent move by the Malaysian Government to impose a vehicle entry permit (VEP) fee for foreign-registered vehicles entering the country via the Causeway and Second Link has generated a mixed reaction from the public.
Many are in favour of the fee, believing that since Singapore charges VEP on foreign cars, Malaysia is justified in doing the same.
The Government’s decision to impose VEP which came soon after Singapore’s decision to increase its VEP charges from S$20 to S$35 (RM52 to RM91) can be seen as a tit-for-tat.
I live in Johor Baru and work in Singapore. I am a Malaysian citizen and also a Singapore permanent resident. Because of this, I am prohibited under Singapore law from driving a Malaysian-registered car in Singapore.
Singapore introduced the VEP scheme in 1973 to regulate the entry of foreign-registered vehicles and to control the number of vehicles on its roads.
What many people do not know is that the VEP charges are not applicable 24 hours a day and on every day of the year.
The VEP charges are applicable only on weekdays, and foreign-registered vehicles can enter the country free on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays.
On any weekday, the foreign-registered vehicle could also enter the country free between 5pm and 2am. These vehicles are also allowed to enter the country for 10 weekdays in a calendar year without paying VEP charges.
During the school holidays in June (four weeks) and December (six weeks), these vehicles can also enter the country free between noon and 2am. This means the duration in which the VEP charges are applicable is reduced during the school holidays.
When the Malaysian Government decided to impose the VEP, it seems to be thinking largely of the Singaporean tourists, weekend travellers and those coming over on business purposes.
There was hardly any consideration on the daily commuters, whose numbers are in the thousands. Despite earning Singapore dollars, much of our income is spent in Malaysia, thus contributing to the local economy.
It has been reported that the VEP charges could be between RM20 and RM50 per day. This adds up to between RM400 and RM1,000 per month. This will be in addition to the daily toll charges we are currently paying, RM2.90 at the Causeway and RM7.50 at the Second Link.
Despite the high exchange rate, this still is a big amount. Not every one of us is earning a high salary and living in big houses simply because we are paid in Singapore dollars.
Being pragmatic people, we chose to work in Singapore while living in Johor Baru so that we can have a better quality of life, despite having to face the traffic congestion at the checkpoints twice a day.
With the introduction of the VEP, commuters like myself, will have to pay whenever we return to Johor Baru in the evening. I find this difficult to understand and accept.
The fact that the Singapore dollar is strong is besides the point. It would appear we are being “penalised” because of the strong Singapore currency.
This appears to be the case as the VEP fee is applicable only to the Causeway and Second Link.
There has been no mention of the VEP being implemented at the northern entry points at the Thai-Malaysian border. The same can be said about border checkpoints in Sabah and Sarawak. This appears to be an inconsistent application of the policy, thus making the VEP scheme wrong in principle.
We should not be made to pay simply because of the high exchange rate and the decision to impose this VEP scheme appears to be a tit-for-tat to Singapore’s decision to increase its VEP charges.
Can you imagine having to pay VEP fee daily just to come home? I can’t.