JOHOR BORDER FEE

How much would Singaporeans pay to drive to Johor?

About a third of the drivers polled here said they would cut back or consolidate their trips, even if the fee were RM20, so as not to accumulate a lot of charges. Most said they would be more willing to pay the levy for longer holidays in the country
About a third of the drivers polled here said they would cut back or consolidate their trips, even if the fee were RM20, so as not to accumulate a lot of charges. Most said they would be more willing to pay the levy for longer holidays in the country but less so for a night out in Johor Baru.BERITA HARIAN FILE PHOTO

RM20: Most say this amount won't deter them much; RM50: Majority say they will cut back on trips

Singapore motorists, who will have to pay in the future to drive their cars into Johor, said the smaller proposed levy of RM20 (S$7.80) would make only a slight difference to how often they went across the Causeway.

But if the levy were RM50, another proposal, that would be a different matter.

At least one visitor among the 20 polled said she would probably stop going to Malaysia altogether if she had to pay RM50 to get in.

"The hassle of waiting an hour in the jam at immigration is just not worth it," said Mrs Esther Koh, 57, who now goes to Johor Baru twice a month with family or friends to have a meal and buy groceries and petrol.

But for RM20, it is worthwhile, she said, as the savings from the lower prices there add up to more than RM20 each time she goes in.

On Wednesday, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said his government had agreed to go ahead with a levy on non-Malaysian vehicles entering Johor. He said the decision was made at the request of the state, which would receive a cut of the fees collected.

Most drivers here, however, see it as tit-for-tat to Singapore's move to raise vehicle entry fees for foreign cars from Aug 1. Details on how much Malaysia's new levy would be and when it would start will be announced later.

One possibility is RM20, reportedly suggested by Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin of Johor state. "Even with the proposed fee of RM20, it is only around S$7.50 for Singaporeans," Malaysian newspaper The Star quoted Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Wee Ka Siong as saying. "I do not think there is anything for them to worry about compared to the $35 vehicle entry permit charge to be imposed on foreign vehicles entering Singapore starting next month."

Another proposal of RM50 was cited by State Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Hasni Mohammad earlier this month.

About a third of drivers polled here said they would cut back or consolidate their trips, even if the fee were RM20, so as not to accumulate a lot of charges.

Businessman Phil Chia, 44, said he would "consider carefully" if he needs to be in Malaysia for meetings. Now he goes twice a week to talk to suppliers or pick up goods for his signage business. "If they are going to impose this, I will consolidate my business meetings and go in less (often)," he said.

Golfer Ng Kwai Yew, 64, would still go to Tanjong Puteri once a fortnight to play golf if the new levy were just RM20. For RM50, he would think twice. "Maybe I will go in less frequently or when I cannot get a golf game at Singapore clubs," he said.

Echoing many of the 20 motorists, stylist Soh W.S., 55, said the higher amount would make a real impact on his monthly visits to Johor. "If it is RM50, I will greatly lose interest in going in," he said.

Most said they would be more willing to pay the levy for longer holidays in the country but less so for a night out in Johor Baru.

Singapore will raise entry fees for foreign cars from $20 to $35 next month to curb the growing number of foreign-registered cars on Singapore roads. The charges apply from 2am to 5pm on Mondays to Fridays, and 2am to 12pm during school holidays. They are waived on weekends and Singapore public holidays.

Administrator Connie Tan, 32, who goes to JB twice a month for leisure trips, hopes for the same latitude on the other side. "I hope Malaysia waives its fees on weekends. That is when most Singaporeans go in and spend money after all," she said.

kashc@sph.com.sg