Jul
30

As expected, LTA has issued the threat that it’d retaliate if JB were to increase or introduce a new toll at its CIQ.

LTA’s oft repeated mantra is “We will match Malaysia” as if it’s fighting for the interests of Singapore motorists. The bald truth is that it’s another of LTA’s ridiculous excuses to generate revenue for the regime as if regime coffers are not overflowing. The fact is regime has once again accumulated billions in surplus this year, 34 billions reportedly.

By matching JB hike in toll, including its new outbound toll, LTA will rake in millions in revenue. However the ones who will fork out the money are Singapore drivers. The brutal truth is Singaporeans are the ones who will suffer.

Living in the most expensive city in the world, Singaporeans try to cope by making trips to JB for food, entertainment, groceries and cheaper petrol.

People all over the world cross borders to take advantage of cheaper goods and services. Is there anything wrong with this?

However, the Singapore regime behaves as if it is not one of the wealthiest nations in the world but one of the poorest as it relentlessly regards Singaporeans as walking ATMs to be raided at the slightest and most absurd excuse.

LTA’s mantra of “We will match the other side” falls into this category of absurdity.

As an Authority vested with the power to impose fees and taxes, it has to do so with full justification. Excuses like the one mentioned and “Because of complaints” not only insult the intelligence of Singaporeans but also erode the credibility of LTA as an Authority.

The question that naturally arises is why can’t LTA match Malaysia’s road tax of less than $100 for most family cars or allow free roadside parking as seen everywhere in Malaysia since it is always making the ridiculous boast of matching this and that?

That most netizens have condemned LTA comes as no surprise. They have had enough of LTA’s money grabbing ways for years.

Singaporeans have to make the ruling PAP pay a heavy political price at the 2016 polls for its culture of money grab.

Jul
28

I’ve have never had such a good laugh.

Johor reportedly does not object to the Malaysian government proposal to impose a levy on Singapore cars. Hahaha, with the prospect of millions in revenue, Johor doesn’t object?

State Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said besides a token toll charge, Singaporean cars entering the state capital currently do not have to pay any fee.

This Datuk even claimed that Singaporeans cause a lot of trouble in JB. He cited the example of congestion in the city centre.

But this claim does not match what I actually see in JB. The new Johor CIQ has diverted much of the Singapore traffic away from JB. The city centre is now very much quieter compared to the days of the old Johor CIQ when Singapore cars had to go through “pusat bandar” or JB city centre.

What other troubles do Singaporeans cause the Datuk didn’t specify. Perhaps, Singaporeans thronging the shopping malls cause human congestion? Ha, but I’m very sure retailers are happy.

With due respect to Datuk, I think he is seriously out of touch.

However, I respect the Malaysian government right to impose any fee they like. But Singaporeans will vote with their feet and avoid JB altogether.

The truth is many Singaporeans are in two minds about JB. On the one hand, they can’t tolerate the congestion at the checkpoints, thanks largely to ICA indifference; on the other, the bargains in JB are tempting.

But with a JB toll of not less than RM 50 (to be matched by an ever greedy LTA), Malaysia has made the decision easier for Singaporeans: no point crossing over now.

I hope Datuk is pleased now as with fewer Singaporeans in JB, there is less trouble, is it not?

Jul
25

So the cat is out of the bag in a manner of speaking.

In an unashamedly tit for tat, Malaysia will impose a toll of not less than RM 50 (about SGD 20) on Singapore vehicles. And don’t forget LTA, aggressive in chasing after every dollar, will match whatever final figure Malaysia comes up with.

So SGD 40 to drive to JB? One must be insane.

It might go up as high as RM 90
to match the VEP SGD 35
Malaysian vehicles have to pay. In other words, to match the greed of the Singapore government.

In an attempt at justification, some quarters in Malaysia aver that it’s right that Singaporeans pay to maintain its infrastructure.

Others claim that with their superior currency exchange rate Singaporeans wouldn’t mind paying more.

Have Singaporeans been exploitive and not bestowing any benefits to JB?

The fact is that Singaporeans have boosted the economy of JB. Its entertainment, shopping, food, and motoring sectors depend largely on Singaporean patronage. 70% of the cars at a car wash outlet are from Singapore for example.

Every time we pump petrol in JB, buy cigarettes or even eat at MacDonald we pay taxes to the Malaysian government.

Malaysia is making the fatal mistake in assuming that Singaporeans find either the country so irresistible or that they are so daft that they will still come.

Singaporeans flock to JB and are willing to brave the perennial traffic congestion because of the bargains to be had.

These bargains will vanish with a punitive toll and so will Singaporeans from the streets of JB.

Polling ten of my friends for their reactions, everyone vowed not to go to JB anymore.

“What for? No point anymore,” was the typical response.

Jul
23

All governments regard an additional stream irresistible. The only thing that may make them think twice is the threat of paying a political price.

Long used to squeezing money from its citizens, the ruling PAP hitherto have had no such fears. But the bad habit is so ingrained in its DNA, that the PAP still chases after every dollar at the slightest excuse.

The Malaysian government appears to be emulating the Singapore government in its proposal to raise the toll for Singapore vehicles entering JB.

What precisely is their justification? None was given except that it was incensed over the VEP increases by Singapore.

Malaysian lorry associations can simply pass on the increase in VEP to Singapore consumers.

Malaysians may boycott Singapore which is a positive for Johor.

No doubt both the Malaysian government and Johor state government are salivating over the prospect of additional revenue.

But they had better not be overcome by greed. Reducing JB and Iskandar to a ghost town may result in BN paying a political price.

Clearly it is a tit for tat. The golden goose might be slaughtered in the process.

Jul
22

That the Malaysian government is miffed by the steep increases in VEP for Malaysian vehicles and lorries is understandable. But its knee-jerk reaction is not in the interests of Malaysia, particularly JB.

It’s a well-known fact that many JB businesses depend on Singaporean patronage ranging from street hawker stall, supermarkets, eateries, malls, car wash, motoring services, golfing and cheaper petrol.

By increasing the toll for Singapore cars, is the Malaysian government protecting the interests of these businesses? The answer is simple: No.

Such businesses will suffer a slump that’s much is certain.

I’ve polled regular JB day trippers, and 100% have responded with a vehement NO if Malaysia were to dramatically increase its toll.

These days one faces endless congestion at the Woodlands Checkpoint. Apart from the financial considerations and one to two hours of being stuck in the traffic, it won’t be that worthwhile to go to JB merely to save a few dollars.

And with many budget airlines now, flying to regional destinations is both fun and economical. What’s the fun of driving to the same old destinations like KL and Malacca anymore?

In short, Malaysia has more to lose than Singapore. Bear in mind too that any increase in toll in JB will be matched by LTA.

Malaysia have every right to be incensed but it has to think very carefully.

As for myself, I think my JB days are well and truly over. I used to take frequent road trips in Malaysia till budget airlines enticed me to fly.

Jul
19

That LTA has conjured up another revenue stream is hardly surprising. Even the reason it gave for the increase in VEP didn’t surprise me.

The increases in VEP for Malaysian-registered cars and goods vehicles are rather steep.

The Malaysian Lorry Association has protested. They may make an impact in Malaysia but against a country known for its greed and repressive tendencies, they are merely banging their heads against the wall. In short, it’s totally futile. 

Predictably, Msia is retaliating with their own increases for Singapore vehicles. The quantum has yet to be announced. The windfall will be shared with the state of Johore.

As many have rightly pointed out, it’s the ordinary people who will suffer.

The prices of goods from Malaysia will certainly shoot up. Expect everyday necessities like vegetables to go up soon.

Already Singapore has the dubious distinction of being the most expensive country in the world. The cost of living will go up again.

All this is consistent with the core value of greed of the Singapore government.

All that mumbo jumbo about making Malaysian vehicles commensurate with the high cost of vehicle ownership in Singapore is absolute nonsense.

Ask anyone and the response is the same: LTA wants $$$$$.

 

 

Jun
10

ImageAny business that conducts itself with indifference to its customers would soon find them boycotting it. This why big companies like Apple have customer support, winning them loyal customers.

Government agencies should adopt a similar mindset of customer service. One government agency that cares about this is CPF which is very much in the news these days.

CPF is prompt with responding to enquiries. Considering the fact that it’s a big organization with thousands of members, its response to emails is admirably fast.

Whatever your views about CPF, its customer service is pretty impressive.

“What about ICA?”, a JB regular asked indignantly. “Zero customer service. Take our toll money but can’t be bothered about everyday congestion.”

Agreed.

This school holiday period sees daily congestion at the Woodlands Checkpoint, both outbound and inbound, from morning till midnight.

Outbound, it may take about an hour just to clear immigration. Inbound, the congestion can be so bad that it tails back all the way to the Malaysian Checkpoint. If one is caught in this situation, it may take more than an hour to clear Singapore customs.

ICA is indifferent to the plight of thousands of motorists. It should show empathy and do more to ease the terrible congestion at Woodlands Checkpoint.

If ICA is stuck and can’t think out of the box, it should invite expert consultants to advise it.

ICA’s signal seems to be take it or leave it. Is our vaunted culture of efficiency crumbling?

 

Jun
07

ImageImageIt was the biggest public protest I’ve ever seen at Hong Lim Park today. A source put it at 5000.

Both the young and the old and people from all ethnic groups turned up in support of today’s protest over the ongoing CPF issue. Two even journeyed to HLP in their wheelchairs.

The theme today was RETURN OUR CPF.

The speakers all voiced doubt and anxiety over our CPF. They demanded greater transparency and accountability from the government.

They pointed out to the legions of elderly people who still have to toil as cleaners, sell tissue papers and collect cardboards because they don’t have enough in their CPF. Some even committed suicide.

One speaker said that CPF returns are the lowest in the world and that we have been shortchanged.

PM Lee bragged that we have a first world Parliament. It’s illogical when we don’t even have a first world government, one that protects the Constitution, believes in transparency and accountability and above all works in the BEST INTERESTS of its citizens.

Clearly PM Lee has stirred a hornet’s nest with his defamation law suit.

 

 

 

Jun
05

Image

Unjustified: ERP is to control traffic congestion but where’s the congestion here? Illogical.

 

I was struck by what the British PM David Cameron said yesterday in Parliament.

To a packed House, he declared that his government intended to let people keep more of their money in their pockets.

Say what you like about the British PM but he impresses with his dynamism and willingness to engage the media and his critics unlike our PMs who have had a deplorable record of silencing their critics with defamation law suits.

Singaporeans face a barrage of indirect taxes ranging from COEs, ERP to the water conservation tax.

The Singapore government and its agencies have honed to a fine art the excuses they give to raise taxes, fees and levies.

One of the most absurd excuses was the one given by LTA when asked why motorists needed to pay a toll at Woodlands Checkpoint on leaving the country.

LTA’s reply? Oh, because the other side, meaning the Malaysian side, imposed a toll.

Now I’ve no beef with that because at least the Malaysian toll is justified as we add to their congestion and use their infrastructure.

Perhaps LTA exit toll is for the privilege of admiring the Woodlands Checkpoint’s architectural wonders or the Causeway as a tourist attraction?

With more disposal income in their pockets, more families can afford family holidays, books, recreational activities like plays, concerts, sports and other activities that can promote happiness and a sense of fulfillment.

I’ve yet to hear the ruling PAP government ever uttering the same sentiment as the British PM.

On the contrary, it keeps on
squeezing and squeezing people for money.

A friend who was recently fined by roving LTA Enforcement for illegal parking in a deserted road one night can attest to that greed.

But then perhaps the government is adhering to the exhortation of the PAP strongman of “What’s wrong with collecting more money?”

You have to admire him really for his unwavering principle: at 91 he’s still on the payroll as an MP.

As to whether an ailing MP can still function that’s one enduring mystery I leave it to more astute minds to solve.

 

Jun
04
Marginalized senior citizens: many elderly Singaporeans still need to toil in a first world country

Marginalized senior citizens: many elderly Singaporeans still need to toil in a first world country

A very tragic end: Samsui woman, 95, fell to her death over costly medical care. SO SAD. RIP.

A very tragic end: Samsui woman, 95, fell to her death over costly medical care. SO SAD. RIP.

Everyone from the Pioneer Generation I spoke to dismissed the Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) as propaganda.

“To buy our votes,” my friend Richard said.

Why now then show concern for the Pioneer Generation? Why not five years, ten years ago?

To be sure, this government has in the past shown disdain for the older generation who helped build the nation. The oldies must learn to stand on their own two feet, a welfare state would lead to ruin, a sense of entitlement is unacceptable declared the regime.

Even Chinese-educated friends, typically conservative, derided the Pioneer Generation Package as pure propaganda. They point to the looming GE for the “generosity”.

“How many will actually benefit? Every year many pioneers  pass on. On paper it seems impressive,” a pioneer pointed out.

Why all this cynicism and skepticism?

Before every General Election regime sweetened the ground. Goodies are dished out. Upgrading of HDB flats and MRT stations were the stock carrots.

These have reached their USE BY this date and so regime has to fish out something else from the hat. Hey presto, the Pioneer Package came into existence.

If the regime had shown care and concern for the older generation much earlier it’d have eased much suffering and anxiety. Or even prevented many premature deaths due to their inability to pay for medical care.

What better person to encapsulate the struggle of the pioneer generation than the Samsui woman? Last year a Samsui woman in her 90s fell down to her death rather than burden her family with the financial burden of medical care for her.

The PGP is regarded as hypocritical and having an ulterior motive by many pioneers I spoke to.

A taxi driver sums it up superbly. “This is ERP government…Every Day Rob People…ERP…government,”he said.

NOTE: ERP stands for Electronic Road Pricing purportedly to ease congestion. But it has attracted resentment because even when there’s no congestion, ERP remains operational. Hence, the derisory term Everyday Rob People. Brilliant.

 

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