JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysians are not the only ones enjoying a three-month tax holiday. Singaporeans too are taking advantage of the zero-rating of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to go on shopping sprees across the Strait of Johor.
With the Hari Raya Haji public holiday in both Malaysia and Singapore on Wednesday (Aug 22), many Singaporeans drove across the Causeway to shop, not letting up the chance to capitalise on the tax holiday before it ends on Aug 31.
Malaysia's unpopular 6 per cent GST was zero rated by the new Mahathir Mohamad administration on June 1.
It was fully scrapped after the government repealed the Goods and Services Tax Act in Parliament this month. It will be replaced with the Sales and Service Tax (SST) that will be implemented in September.
Among the shopping complexes that are seeing a flurry of activity are Johor Baru City Square, Komtar JBCC, KSL City, Plaza Pelangi, AEON Bukit Indah and AEON Tebrau.
The Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) in Kulai is also drawing the crowds with its range of off-season branded apparel, shoes, handbags and watches offered at discounted prices.
Among the Singaporean shoppers was businessman Teo Zhang Wei, 41, who said the weaker ringgit and the tax holiday had enticed many of his countrymen to shop here.
"Johor Baru is always the preferred destination for Singaporeans because the prices here are way lower than back home.
"Besides shopping, my wife and I also enjoy time here to unwind and go to the spa," he said with a smile.
Housewife Janice Teng, 52, said she went to places like JPO to do some early Christmas shopping.
"Christmas may be four months away but in tax-free Malaysia, it feels like Christmas has come early for me.
"I am buying Christmas presents to avoid last-minute shopping in Singapore, when it could get expensive," she said.
Technician Abu Bakar Salim, 49, also found time to buy things while visiting relatives as they celebrated Hari Raya Haji.
"I shopped at the market and shopping complexes around here," he said.