Penny wise, pound foolish and Najib’s broken promise

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So, it’s been nearly a week now since the Malaysian toll hike…and I am happy to report, the Causeway is VERY clear. I suppose this is the only positive thing that has come out from this whole ridiculous situation. Here are the new toll rates:

JB Custom tolls

JB Custom tolls

And the impact on our pocket?

Private cars - 469% price increase Small lorries – 453% price increase Heavy lorries – 446% price increase Taxis – 486% price increase Buses – 478% price increase

Honestly, Singaporeans are the LEAST affected by the hike, despite the hefty increase. Namely because most Singaporeans stay in Singapore and traveling into Malaysia is optional. 1 less shopping venue for the Singaporeans, but what does it really matter?

As for those who commute (like me), this price hike on the Causeway tolls is tolerable as it is approximately the same toll rate I pay when I travel through the 2nd Link anyway. That said, Singapore has made it known that they will ALSO raise their tolls to match Malaysia’s rate….so, I’m not sure how long my earlier statement can continue to hold true.

It is the Johorians who are truly bearing the brunt of this move by the State - Businesses in Johor will suffer with less Singaporeans, Malaysians who commute to Sg (namely on work permits and mostly blue collar workers) who already don’t earn a lot will end up with higher transport costs, and investments into Iskandar will stall.

Some people have argued that the reason for imposing the toll is fair. That there is nowhere on the EDL highway to install a tollbooth. That by imposing the toll at the customs will mean fewer Malaysians get taxed than if the toll was on the EDL highway itself. Bullshit. It is grossly unfair to make people pay for something they did not and do not use. And, isn’t it the job the of government to build and maintain roads – Isn’t a portion of existing taxes paid to the State used for this purpose?

Btw, for those who are not in the know, the recent hike in toll is just Najib backtracking on his 2012 promise (before the elections) on maintaining free use of the EDL. In 2012, after the Eastern Dispersal Highway was completed to link the Pasir Gudang side of JB to town, the private company who built the highway wanted to collect astronomical tolls to recoup their expenses. Following a huge public uproar, the highway was acquired by the Federal government who promised that no tolls would be collected for the use of the EDL. Well, I guess things always change after an election. :(

I suppose I should be happy that I don’t have to be stuck for hours in the commute anymore…but it is the way this change is implemented that scares me. When a country’s government gives scant regard to it’s own people and instead prefers to choose a quick route to line it’s coffers, it makes me wonder how much thought would they give in ensuring that foreign investors will get a fair deal. Najib better speak up and speak up quick, because I am pretty sure this (and the impending VEP) will have a large impact on how Singaporeans (who comprise of the largest group of investors in Malaysia) view the future of Iskandar.

VEP in Johor, Malaysia

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So it seems that the Malaysian government is unable to resist the temptation of quick and fast money afterall.

Despite the fact that the success of the Iskandar project in general is greatly dependent on the spending of foreigners (chiefly Singaporeans and Malaysians working in Singapore), it seem counterproductive for the  government to try gain additional tax revenue through the VEP, only to lose hundreds of thousands in the broader economy.

That said, the VEP isn’t confirmed yet, and given how things are done in Malaysia, there is a chance that there might be a U-turn in the decision ultimately (remember the ridiculous and extremely costly biometric custom system that caused massive jams and that was later abandoned?).

The government really needs to hire a better PR agency to vet the comments of their ministers, and other political leaders. I find it ludricrous that the Malaysian government took the suggestion from their UMNO youth so seriously to the point of implementation. Like, hello!  The basis for this suggestion is retaliatory in nature, and comes from a total political greenhorn! :(

Here’s an excerpt of what the UMNO Youth Chief said…

 

“Even if we impose the fee, they will still come because where else are they going to go? They have no where else to go. They are still going to have to come to Malaysia.

“We don’t have to feel inferior about imposing the fee… they have no choice they are going to come. Let’s not feel so inferior… what is 10 or 20 dollars to them?”

“Let’s not sell ourselves short,” he said.

 

The main basis for the wanting to impose a higher tax seems like greed and ego!

To be very honest though, I am not surprised at how the Malaysian government is behaving – after all, they are not known to have a good track record in following through plans (think: crooked bridge, biometric system, etc). I guess this is the danger of investing in a foreign country. It could be that I am too used to the straight and narrow in Singapore (in this case, it’s a good thing) where the promises and plans made by the government are next to always seen through.

More importantly though, how does this impact one’s decision in wanting to make a move over into JB to live? Things have changed a lot in the last 2 – 3 years. When we first decided to move over to live in JB, the house prices were MUCH lower, the jams were predictable (and therefore avoidable), there were no massive plans for condos, and crime rate in Nusajaya in general was lower. It is definitely different now eh?

I still think living in JB has it’s perks, and I believe I will continue to stay here for a few more years as benefits (space, quality of life) still outweigh the cons. However, if Malaysian government implements the VEP, and the jams continue to worsen, and if the road systems in JB itself are not improved to ease traffic within the city itself, who’s to say Singapore won’t start looking more attractive again? :P

Car break-in at Bukit Indah

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Crime seems to be rising in Nusajaya lately…..and while I thought it’d never happen to me, I too became a victim of a car break-in recently.

It happened last weekend in Bukit Indah when me and some friends went for breakfast. We parked our cars along a busy street near Hock Sang restaurant and went off for breakfast. On hindsight, I should have double checked to make sure that my friend took his bag out of the car instead of just leaving it to chance that he’d remember. Personally, I NEVER leave any bag or valuable in plain sight unattended in my car, but in our rush (and constant excited group chatter), I forgot to check.

Anyway, my friend left his black haversack on the backseat floor and when we returned, we found the rear window smashed in and the bag gone! :(

As my friend parked just behind my car, we managed to capture the entire event on camera (from the mounted front camera in her car). I’m sharing this video so you can see how the thief works…

 

My friend lost his SG passport in the process and had a lot of trouble getting back to Singapore. Just FYI, if you ever lose your SG passport, you need to go to the Singapore Embassy located in City Square (old JB central) to get temporary identification papers to clear customs. You will also need to get a local police report BEFORE you go to the embassy.

We made a police report and the experience was terrible. All I can say is that the policemen seemed very uninterested in wanting to solve the case.

Even though I managed to catch the entire incident on film and we are able to see the face of the thief clearly, I was told by the policeman that they did not know if they would be able to catch the guy.  When pressed to explain what he meant, he just said that even though we can see the face of the thief clearly, they did not know WHO this guy was and so it would be difficult to catch him. This is even AFTER we told him we suspect that there is a syndicate operating in that area (we discovered broken car glass windows on the grass near where we parked after the incident happened).

WTF?!!!!!! Like, seriously……based on his reply, it seems like the job of a policeman in  is to arrest people…not to solve crimes. Seriously, Malaysia boleh!

Anyway, please be careful if you will be out and about Bukit Indah area. Stay safe everybody!

Iskandar investors to face problems

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I was wondering when would something like this happen…though the move might be rather late to rein in the crazy prices.

“The common mistake that most Singaporean investors have made in Iskandar is buying property that is too expensive for locals – though cheap for Singaporeans – and yet not in a prime enough location, not a good enough design, and not in a good enough environment where there will be enough foreign buyers to take up these properties in the future.”

So please,  do your homework before you buy.

Rain is all good but check your windows!

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So the rain FINALLY arrived yday after a 2 week dry spell which turned nearly everything brown.

And boy, did it rain! In fact it rained all day, stopped in the evening and restarted somewhere in the middle of the night. There was ALOT of water!

Anyway, I realized yesterday that my windows/walls were leaking! I found wet patches on the wall that continued on as damp spots on the floor. :(

Figure the sealant or whatever water proof thing they use at the window joints must have contracted during the hot and dry season and cannot hold up during a torrential thunder storm.

This happened previously as well but the guys from HH management fixed it for me. Or should I say, temporarily fixed it for me. My house is currently still under the warranty period so I can still get the management to do something about it but I have this sneaky feeling that this is going to be a recurring problem. And my warranty period is ending in a couple of months! :( Any one with any ideas on how I can resolve this issue once and for all? I don’t see my mom’s 30+ year old hdb flat leaking after a rain so im sure there must be a better solution than just using sealant at the window joints! :(

So anyway, you guys might want to go check on your windows and walls soon. I find that the best time to inspect the finishing of a house is after a big rain! Don’t delay because once the wet patches dry, the faulty areas will be harder to spot!

It’s garbage!

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Even though I have lived in Malaysia for 1 year, some things still never cease to amaze me. Perhaps I am just too used to the efficiency in Singapore where everything is fast, clean and done correctly.

The garbage collectors came by today. And they did the most AMAZING thing. They drove by my house in their truck with 3 or 4 people, pull the rubbish bins onto the road (why they do that instead of just leaving the bins where they are, I can’t understand), take out some of the trash, put the trash on the floor and then…………..FREAKING DRIVE OFF!!! O_o
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Like, seriously. They just left the rubbish half done and left it there.  And the best part is…they took my neighbours trash. WHY?????!!!??!?!?!?!!

So I ended up calling the waste company, which is outsourced, btw.
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Sigh. Malaysia really boleh!

Annual pond cleaning

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Today, we got our pond clean. Finally, after living here for slightly over a year.

It was very dirty. Actually, that’s an understatement. It was EXTREMELY dirty, with algae everywhere and worms (?!) buried in the algae.

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Don’t understand where the worms came from though..maybe the filters were so choked that it was impossible for dirt to drain out and the pile up eventually created a nesting ground for worms!!! Yeech.

But I guess for a once a year clean, it’s cool. They didn’t even have to take out the fish or turtle while they worked on the pond. :)

For RM200, i’m not sure if it’s considered cheap or expensive..but I personally find it quite worth it to have have to muck around with worms and other gross, stinky stuff in the cleaning tank. :p