Aug
03

JB toll hike: the boycott cold war

Today is Day 3 of the “cold war” between JB and Singapore over the former’s toll hike of 400% and the latter’s VEP increase.

Woodlands Checkpoint and the Causeway remain deserted today. Singaporeans are boycotting JB and Malaysians are not coming over.

Result? An own goal by both countries. Both are losers.

However, the Singapore government would disagree. Why? They think they can do without Malaysian visitors.

The new Petronas petrol station, strategically situated outside the JB ICQ to capture Singaporean quest for cheaper petrol is probably the biggest loser if the boycott continues.

When the Singapore government, whose core value is greed, matches the JB tolls as it vowed to as if it is doing Singapore motorists the greatest favour in the world, JB businesses will be very negatively impacted.

When the pull factor of bargains to be had in JB vanishes because of all these tolls exacted by predatory governments, Singaporean love affair with JB is over.

Malaysian Ministers betray their out of touch mindset when they declared that with their strong currency Singaporeans would not mind paying more in tolls.

In other words, they wouldn’t mind being ripped off?

The Singapore Foreign Minister has said the controversy would not affect bilateral ties. Of course, when both governments are laughing all the way to the bank.

But JB retailers would not care less about that, would they?

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Aug
02

JB toll hike: signs of JB businesses meltdown?

JB ICQ implemented the new toll rates for inbound and outbound (new) yesterday.

Curious to know the effect that would have on Singapore motorists, I checked the traffic situation for the morning rush hour. Lo and behold, the Woodlands Checkpoint was deserted when normally it would be bumper to bumper traffic heading to JB.

So the majority also share my view that it’s no longer worthwhile. And when LTA, whose core revenue is greed, matches the JB tolls, the noose over JB is tightened further.

It also proves that the majority of Singaporeans who enter JB on weekdays are intent on recreational, shopping, eating and holidaying purposes. Woodlands Checkpoint remained deserted throughout the day yesterday.

Businesses in JB must have lost thousands of ringgits. I can imagine the poor car wash workers filled with anxiety as Singapore cars, the mainstay of their business, stayed away.

Adding to the drama was the bus strike by bus drivers ferrying factory workers to Singapore at JB ICQ. They were protesting against the new JB outbound toll.

At this time on a Saturday traffic at Woodlands Checkpoint would be heavily congested but now it’s as deserted as yesterday. Again, JB businesses will suffer today.

The cynical will say people will soon get used to it, and it’ll be business as usual. Maybe but it won’t see the same level of enthusiasm for JB as before.

It was unwise of the Malaysian government to retaliate with a hike in the JB toll in a tit for tat against Singapore over the steep VEP increase. JB businesses need Singaporean customers. It’s as simple as that.

Singapore regime is not fearful of losing Malaysian tourist receipts that’s why it hiked the VEP. Unless employment prospects in Malaysia match Singapore’s, regime is also confident Malaysian workers will still flock here.

Even if they are forced to trudge along the Causeway to Singapore.

Aug
01

JB toll hike: Singaporeans boycott JB and Msian buses strike

Yesterday five of us JB regulars bade farewell to JB with a party in…JB of course.

From today the JB toll for inbound AND outbound (a new toll) will cost RM 16.50. And, the Singapore regime, with greed as its core value, has vowed to match that.

Once a week on average each of us spent about RM 200 in JB. That means we pumped about RM 4000 into JB economy every month.

It’s not a question of affordability. People the world over cross borders if there is the pull factor of bargains to be enjoyed. Once this is diminished, it’s no longer worthwhile.

Particularly in our case where there is the perennial traffic congestion at the checkpoints.

Malaysians we spoke to voiced their frustration and predicted gloomy days ahead not only for JB but also for Iskandar which is also well known for its theme parks besides high-end housing and industrial parks.

This morning the usual congestion at Woodlands Checkpoint vanished. Clearly other motorists share the view that it’s no longer worthwhile to go to JB.

Again this morning, Malaysian buses ferrying workers to Singapore factories refused to drive to Singapore in protest against the steep JB tolls. The workers were forced to walk across the Causeway. I can imagine the disruption to factory operations across Singapore.

When the money-faced Singapore regime matches the new JB tolls, expect more trouble ahead.

Jul
30

Johor Baru toll hike: LTA ridiculous threat to match it in obvious money grab

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

VEP increases: Malaysia hits back at Singapore

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

RM 50 JB toll or how to reduce jb into a ghost town

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

VEP increases: Msian government killing the golden goose

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

Msia knee-jerk reaction over VEP increase: JB doomed?

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

VEP increases: betray LTA’s core value of greed

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

Woodlands Checkpoint Congestion: why is ICA indifferent?

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?