No fuel for foreign motorists within 50km of Malaysian borders
Carolyn Hong, Malaysia Bureau Chief
27 May 2008
(c) 2008 Singapore Press Holdings Limited
KL moves to limit sales of subsidised fuel to non-citizens
KUALA LUMPUR - FOREIGN-REGISTERED vehicles from Singapore and Thailand will not be allowed to buy petrol or diesel at stations within 50km of Malaysian borders, from as early as this Friday.
The new ruling is intended to prevent foreign vehicles from entering Malaysia to buy the heavily-subsidised fuel.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shahrir Samad told The Straits Times that there would be no restriction on purchase of fuel from stations outside the designated zone.
'This will come into force on Friday, or at the latest (next) Monday,' he said.
He said the problem is mainly caused by Thai-registered vehicles that come into Malaysia just to top up fuel, but the government has decided to extend it to Singapore-registered ones as well.
He does not have data on the number of vehicles or amount of fuel sold to these vehicles, but the leakage was a 'serious problem'.
Written directives will be issued to 300 petrol kiosks in the designated zone not to let foreign vehicles fill up, he said.
The penalty for station owners who flout the rule is a fine of up to RM250,000 (S$108,000) or a jail term of three years.
Malaysia subsidises its fuel heavily, to the tune of RM40 billion last year.
The government is moving cautiously to roll back subsidies for fear of political repercussions as the cost of living soars. The move against foreign vehicles is a way to cut its subsidy bill without affecting Malaysians.
Mr Shahrir said this was an interim measure while the government looked into ways to reform its subsidy mechanism.
He said the move was 'not targeted at tourists or those who are genuinely visiting Malaysia. If they drive from Singapore to Penang, they can buy fuel at any station outside the 50km radius from the border,' he said.
The move would affect Singaporeans like Mr Edwin Ngin Kuan Wee, who drives twice a week from his home in Telok Blangah to Johor Baru during weekdays, just to top up the tank.
Even with the three-quarter-tank rule imposed by the Republic on Singapore cars, he manages to save on each trip in his Toyota Celica.
He fills up a quarter of the tank, about 26 litres, each time in JB at RM1.92 a litre, or a total of $21.10.
In Singapore, the same amount would cost him $54.60 at $2.10 a litre, saving him $33.50.
'I am not sure it will be worthwhile for me to drive 50km into Johor for petrol,' said the 26-year-old sales engineer.
Said transport executive Faisal Hassan, 28, who drives to JB weekly for shopping and dining: 'I would not want to travel 50km away from the border for safety reasons and there are no prominent shopping centres I know of.'
A drive of 50km from the Causeway would roughly take you near Desaru or Kota Tinggi, or if you are travelling on the North-South Expressway, near Sedenak, he said.