For Singaporeans, it's just the cost of a big latte+cheesecake. At Tokoh Wartawan Negara A. Kadir Jasin's open house yesterday, I arrived just in time for a lively discussion with other guests, including one from Singapore holding a strategic position in government, on the new and substantially higher CIQ toll rate. My ex-boss was beaming to see me, asked me to get a seat and happily introduced me: "Datuk Rocky here was born in Malaysia and grew up in Singapore but I'm quite sure he will defend the (Malaysian) government's move on the toll."
I happily obliged. To me, it's very clear that the new toll at CIQ 1. does not burden the majority of people, including most Malaysians who work in Singapore (because they travel by public and office transport), and 2. while it may seem to target Singaporeans and Malaysians driving Singapore-registered vehicles, these people can afford the increase (it's the price of a big latte and two cheese cakes at Starbucks, a Singapore blogger friend had told me last week).
Najib Razak's Cabinet would have considered the cause and effect of the new toll (plus the additional cost to Singaporean vehicles if or when we decide to charge them VEP-like fees) and found them to be minimal, at least where Malaysians are concerned. In fact, even the 400 per cent hike in charges imposed by Singapore on commercial vehicles from Malaysia recently (read here) will ultimately be passed to the Singapore consumer, I suggested. The Singapore guest at the table agreed that such would be the most probable case.
So why has the CIQ toll increase become controversial and contentious in Malaysia then? Answer: politics. It's been made a tool to score political points. The DAP, which is hoping to make greater inroads in Johor come the next general election, sees and opportunity and will seize it. Nur Jazlan Rahmat, the chairman of the PAC and government MP for Pulai, Johor, is not in Najib's Cabinet or he would have defended the toll increase. It's all a game to many of our politicians.
I was asked, "So what is the biggest challenge as far as the CIQ toll is concerned?"
"One thing and one thing only," I said, "for the Federal government not to do a flip-flop on its own decision."
And n the face of DAP-sponsored protests and Nur Jazlan's heroics, I'd never say for certain what Najib Razak's administration might do. You won't worry about the Singapore government back-pedalling on the VEP decision. They won't. If those two drivers who had stopped traffic at CIQ last week had done so in Singapore, they would have been arrested swiftly and sent to jail for being a menace. The Malaysian government should be as surefooted and stringent once a decision has been made.
As someone who has relatives and friends in Singapore, of course I want Singaporeans to continue visiting my country. And I'm sure they will continue to do so, even with the new toll. Large latte and cheese cakes in Starbucks here taste just as well and are still so much cheaper.
Most Malaysians don't understand the bigger things Singapore motorists and prospective car owners have to think of
Here's one of them:
Certificate of Entitlement (COE) prices all ended higher in the latest open tender on Wednesday.The open category of COEs, which can be used for any vehicle, saw a spike of $2,001 to $65,002.Prices for cars below 1600 cc went up by $900 to hit $62,890, while premiums for larger cars increased by $112 to end at $65,001.COE prices for motorcycles also rose from $4,001 to $4,252, while commercial vehicle COEs went up by a whopping $8,620 to $52,010.Source: One Motoring
New COE prices.
What it means? The Toyota Vios (a popular car on Malaysian roads) is retailed at S$112,000 in Singapore. So if you are a Singaporean and plan to buy one, you will have to cough up 62k + 112k = S$174,000. Or RM445,000, give or take one or two big lattes.
What can you buy with RM445k in Malaysia, ah?