It’s only right to penalise foreign-registered vehicle drivers as well

A Johor Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry enforcement officer conducting checks at a popular petrol station in Johor Baru.

PETALING JAYA: The plan to impose higher fines for the illegal sale of RON95 to foreign registered vehicles should be a “two-way street”, says the Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia.

Reacting to the proposal for heftier penalties, the association said placing the burden on local dealers alone is unfair, adding that foreigners who abuse the government’s subsidies should also be penalised.

Its president, Datuk Khairul Annuar Abdul Aziz, called for a law to prevent foreign-registered vehicle drivers from buying Malaysia’s subsidised fuel.

“Currently, there is no law to punish foreign-registered vehicles from buying our subsidised fuel and we wonder why the government won’t legislate a law for this purpose.

“These days, petrol stations operate on a self-service basis and it is difficult for us to monitor every single vehicle entering.

“We have limited workers and have to help disabled persons and pregnant women.

“These foreigners (who abuse the system) will usually fill up tanks at the pump furthest from our cashiers.

“I agree that dealers and stations should be penalised, but the foreign-registered vehicle drivers should face the same action too, otherwise they will keep trying to steal subsidised fuel meant for Malaysians,” he said yesterday.

According to Khairul, oil companies are currently working with the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry to develop a mobile app for petrol stations and the public to lodge direct complaints with the government.

“But the problem is that even if we do lodge complaints, there is still no law to punish the foreign drivers because technically, due to there not being any law (against them), they are not committing an offence,” he pointed out.

Some foreign-registered vehicle owners still flouting law by pumping RON95 petrol
Errant petrol station operators to pay over RM1mil for illegal sale of RON95 fuel

Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president Mohideen Abdul Kader welcomed the proposal for heftier penalties, saying it will help prevent leakages in fuel subsidies.

He said as subsidised fuel is meant only for Malaysians, efficient implementation of enforcement is urgent.

Concurring with Khairul, he said drivers of foreign-registered vehicles should be penalised too if they manage to buy the subsidised RON95 fuel or even if they threaten petrol station workers who try to stop them from filling up with the fuel.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) chief executive officer Saravanan Thambirajah suggested that the government engage with industry stakeholders first before finalising its proposal.

He said Putrajaya should fully understand the issues that petrol stations are faced with in such cases, what with the lack of manpower they face to cope with foreign-registered vehicles entering their stations.

“Back then, we had petrol pump attendants filling up at every single pump but now, everything is self-service.

“So who is going to monitor every car coming in and out and whether the vehicles have foreign-registered plates or not?

“Is the government going to give incentives so that petrol stations can have more workers? Let’s be fair to them,” he said.

Saravanan said information boards should be put up at every entry point into the country so that foreigners would be reminded of offences in Malaysia such as buying subsidised petrol.

“We have a lot of petrol stations in Malaysia who do not only sell fuel. They also manage convenience stores, ATMs and counters for bill payment.

“So, who should attend to the pumps, stores and monitor foreign-registered vehicles? They can’t do everything at once,” he added.

> This story was first published as The Star Exclusive
Autos News