SINGAPORE: The Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) will not be enforced during both peak and non-peak hours until further notice, according to Malaysia's Ministry of Transport (MOT).
"No enforcement until further notice," a ministry spokesperson told CNA on Tuesday (Oct 1), the day the VEP enforcement was meant to kick in.
In 2017, it was announced that foreign-registered vehicles entering Malaysia would need a VEP as part of the country's efforts to tackle car theft and the cloning of syndicates, as well as to prevent vehicles with outstanding fines from leaving.
On Sep 23, the Malaysian MOT announced it would defer enforcement of the VEP for all outbound traffic at Kompleks Sultan Abu Bakar (KSAB) and Bangunan Sultan Iskandar (BSI) during peak hours.
The ministry did not indicate at the time if VEPs would be checked during the off-peak period.
KSAB refers to Johor's immigration checkpoint near Tuas, while BSI refers to the one in Woodlands.
NO VEP CHECKS ON TUESDAY AFTERNOON
CNA sought clarification from the Malaysian MOT after it drove in and out of Johor via the Causeway during the off-peak hours on Tuesday without being checked for VEP.
There was no enforcement when our vehicle entered the country at about noon, nor was there a request to see our VEP when we left at about 2pm.
Malaysian immigration officers also appeared torn as to the correct protocol. As our car entered Johor, one officer said VEP checks had begun and would be conducted on the way out.
However, the officer that saw to us as we left Johor said the checks had not started, but when they did, they would be conducted on the way in.
MOT did not respond to CNA's question about whether inbound or outbound traffic would be affected when the rule eventually comes into force.
Before CNA embarked on its journey into Malaysia, a quick check on the popular SGCustom chat group on Telegram showed Singapore drivers were unclear on the latest VEP developments.
The group, which has more than 30,000 members, offered a tip, however, that drivers could save their VEP registration confirmation slip as a temporary substitute for the radio frequency identification (RFID) tag - information that had been disseminated by the Malaysian Road Transport Department (JPJ) in earlier emails.
We had prepared a copy of the confirmation slip, but despite signs reminding drivers to collect their RFID tag before Oct 1, the immigration officer that greeted us upon entry did not request for the tag or the slip.
In Johor, Singapore drivers that had also passed through appeared unfazed by the situation, especially as they had already been experiencing issues with the VEP registration.
A number had waited months to be invited to book an appointment so they could have the RFID tag installed. Those who had been invited said there were no appointment slots available.
At a petrol station near the checkpoint, Mr Siva Raj said he had been waiting several weeks to get an appointment and had meanwhile saved his confirmation slip as a PDF on his phone.
Mr Raj, who works in real estate, said he did not foresee "any problems" going in and out of Johor without the VEP in the next few months because of the year-end holiday period.
"Jams at the Causeway and Tuas Second Link will affect business here," said the 42-year-old who enters Johor twice a week to visit his parents-in-law.
"Malaysian authorities should give months of ample notice before enforcement (properly) starts," he added.
On our way out of Johor, there were again signs reminding drivers to collect their RFID tag. Again, the immigration officer did not request to see it.
"VEP has not started," said the officer when asked. "Checks will be done on the way in, I think."
Near the Causeway exit, the VEP reminder signs had been set up in an area that had speed bumps, barriers and sensors. Some drivers said this could be a potential area for future VEP checks.
But on Tuesday, the barrier lifted for our car and we soon joined the queue on the Causeway back to Singapore, though this lasted just 10 minutes.
NEW APPOINTMENT SLOTS AT END OF OCTOBER
Another check on the SGCustom group on Telegram showed that at least three drivers had not been checked for VEP upon entering and leaving Malaysia on Tuesday afternoon.
However, one member of the group also posted a screenshot of an email from JPJ's VEP helpline addressing the issue of appointment slots.
"We have not yet opened the time slots for the month of November," according to the email seen by CNA. "We open the available slot monthly. So, we advise you to try check again later by the end of the month for the next available slot."
MOT had announced on Sep 23 that it would open an RFID installation centre at KSAB in addition to the ones at Gelang Patah Southbound RnR (Rest and Relaxation), Plaza Angsana open carpark, Pandan RnR and Lima Kedai Toll Plaza.
The email stated that drivers can still continue entering Malaysia as usual "until further announcement on VEP enforcement from Ministry of Transport Malaysia".
"However, please do bring along your VEP confirmation slip along with all supporting documents as proof of your VEP registration," it added.