Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Filling forms of Singaporeans at Causeway

Singapore is an important market to Johor in general, and to Johor Bahru in particular. Not many people are aware that the annual export of fruits, vegetables, eggs and poultry products from Johor to Singapore is valued at about RM300-400 million a year. In terms of projects, Singapore is also investing in Johor as an important source of foreign direct investment. Daily, the traffic volume in the Causeway is about 50, 000 to 100, 000 people crisscrossing the Causeway. About 30, 000 Malaysians commute daily to work in Singapore. In the same way, we estimate daily, about 30, 000 to 50, 000 Singaporeans come in as day tripper, some to work and some for day trip as tourist to shop and dine. Studies were done, if I can recall, in the early 90’s that average Singaporeans spent about RM200 per trip in Johor Bahru. Hence, the city of JB has the biggest consumer base in this country when you add 4.5 million Singaporeans to JB’s 1 million. In short, Singapore is an important market to the economic well being in JB and Johor. Hence, it makes a lot of sense that in Johor, Singapore bashing is not favoured since they treasure the Singapore dollar.

Endless meetings have been conducted to facilitate travelers between 2 countries, especially Johor and Singapore. In fact in Johor, there is a committee called Entry and Exit Committee which I used to chair on behalf of MB Johor and this committee will sit together to ensure all entry points to Johor from Singapore be opened and operational so that the infamous Causeway crawl and the long queue at the 2nd link be reduced. One of the proposals is the smart card for the frequent travelers. Unfortunately, despite many meeting at highest level between both nations, it has not bear fruits.

The white embarkation and disembarkation form was often sighted as one of the major causes of delay at the Causeway. This year, in January, when Singaporeans were exempted from filling in the forms, it was much welcomed since it would promote traffic flow at border points and hence, a lot of tourist and retail activities will get a boost. Suddenly, we are told that the new ruling will again be introduced from this Wednesday where they have to fill up the forms again. We can then look forward to longer queues at the immigration checkpoint, especially on weekends and public holidays where the crowd goes up to 150, 000 per day from Singapore. Let’s hope the Ministry of Internal Affairs and immigration will re-look at this reintroduction of the cards. If it is for security reason and documentation, then the international passport should be the only source for information. We should revisit the issuance of smart card.

Johor needs the Singapore market just as Singapore requires Johor’s product. We are suppose to live in a borderless world and this is a case of 2 nation separated by Straits of Tebrau that takes 15 minutes to cross when there is no jam. Yet, both the nations are unable to agree of how to facilitate travelers for the citizens of 2 nations.


ivanwong said...

Dear Dr Chua,

My name is Ivan. I am in the midst of a project to improve tourism of Johor. Given your vast experience, could I have your view and maybe, speak to you to seek your advise? I will be meeting YB Hoo, tourism Board and police soon to present my points as my project will involve them.

Do drop me an email/sms and I will call you.
Thank you.

p.s pls help not to publish this comment. my numbers are attached below.

+65 98188364
016 7786372

Lysendar said...

Dear Dr. Chua,

What happen to our government? Keep changing their mind, last time no need white card, now said want white card? It is very shameful to the government that keep changing their mind. If the government think they want to impose the white card, then don't change it, stick with it. And why suddenly said want white card, without any reasons!!!!! I think the MB of Johor need to voice out and highlight to the federal government the important of the economic in Johor, and also the impact. MCA has majority of the MPs from Johor, but no one voice it out!! Why????
God Bless.....................

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