Adjournment Motion on Motorcycle Ownership – Speech by Faisal Manap

Delivered in Parliament on 5 October 2021

Sir, my speech today calls for the government to make motorcycle ownership more affordable in particular for fellow Singaporeans who are reliant on this mode of transportation for their livelihood. Largely, my speech will focus on reviewing and making necessary and reasonable changes to the current Vehicle Quota System (VQS) namely category D of the Certificate of Entitlement, better known among Singaporeans in short as COE. Additionally, I will also like to raise two other related proposals

The Vehicle Quota System was introduced and implemented in 1990 with the objective of regulating the growth of the vehicle population in Singapore. Under the current VQS system, the COE are categorized into, A, B, C, D, & E. Categories A & B are for cars. Category C is for Goods vehicle and buses. Category D is for motorcycles and E for all vehicles except motorcycles.

Sir, the COE for motorcycles has been getting more attention compared to other vehicles in recent years and the attention has heightened in the recent two months due to the skyrocketing prices. I have brought up the issue of motorcycle’s COE multiple times in this chamber in the form of PQ and COS cuts. This time around I am tabling this matter as an adjournment motion as I strongly feel that this issue needs to be conveyed, explained and discussed more in depth with the hope that MOT will consider reviewing motorcycle’s COE system which is Cat. D. At this point, I would like to reiterate that the intention of calling for this review is mainly to benefit our fellow Singaporeans who depends on motorcycles to feed their family.

COE’s trend

Sir, let us explore the trend for motorcycle’s COE prices over the years. In 2001, the lowest COE prices for Cat. D was $509 in December while highest was $1,313 in January. Ten years on, 2011, the lowest price was in December, $1,481 and highest in March, $2,534. This year, 2021, the COE price in January was $7,501 and it has skyrocketed in the last couple of months, to $8,899 and $9,689 for August and September, respectively.

Impact of COE prices on riders

According to MOM’s statistics for 2020, there were 228,000 residents who declared themselves as engaging in “own account work”, i.e., they are self-employed or freelancers. A number of these residents are likely to be motorcyclists engaged in delivery and dispatch services with one of the existing platforms. In addition, there are riders who are direct employees of various companies. There are no clear indicators on the number of Singaporeans who are riding commercially. 

However, browsing through the job listings for riders on the My Careers Future website, I notice that the monthly salaries offered range between $1,000 and $2,500. That is to say, that someone who wants to purchase a Class 2B motorcyle so that he can earn an income as a dispatch rider will need to set aside four to ten months of a salary he has not yet earned just to afford the latest COE for a motorcycle. When we take into consideration the road tax, insurance and all the other costs involved in purchasing a new bike, the number can go up to fourteen months. More than a year of working just to afford a vehicle that is needed.

There is the option of second-hand motorcycles. However, those are not cheap either. A three-year old motorcycle can go for around S$10,000. A motorcycle with three years left on the COE can cost around S$5,000.  After buying a second-hand motorcycle, the new owner will soon be faced with a decision on whether to renew the COE when it expires. And again, the difficult choice has to be made between buying a new machine or a second-hand vehicle. They can also rent motorcycles, but that is not a sustainable option in the medium to long term, given the rental rates of around $70 daily. One month’s salary does not even cover the rental costs, and this is before we consider the cost of petrol, parking, ERP, and more.

Proposed changes to COE system for Cat. D

The COE remains the largest cost factor in the purchasing of a motorcycle. In this regard, I am making a few proposals towards improving the COE system for Cat D.  I am mindful that the ultimate goal is not to lead to an increase in the number of motorcycles on the road. Rather, my intention is to improve the well-being for our fellow Singaporeans who rely on riding motorcycles to make a living.

I am reiterating my call for the Ministry of Transport to consider categorising the COE for Motorcycles into classes according to engine capacity, similar to how the licenses to ride motorcycles are categorised. This is a proposal I first mentioned during the cut I filed at the 2016 COS debates. I am also renewing my call for the number of COEs available for each category to be allocated in accordance with the percentage of these vehicles on our roads. Under the current practice, all motorcycles are grouped into a single Category D regardless of its engine capacity.

When I raised this point in 2016, then-Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng had replied that given that 70% of the motorcycle population in Singapore had an engine capacity below 200cc, introducing such a differentiation would lead to rigidity and subsequently lead to higher volatility in the COE prices for motorcycles.

This volatility has already set in as we can see from the COE prices for motorcycles especially in the last few months. In this regard, I call upon the Ministry of Transport to reconsider my proposal towards making a proper and fairer allocation of quotas among the three different classes of motorcycles, according to the demand of the respective classes.

My second proposal to MOT is to consider abolishing COE bidding for class 2B motorcycles (200c and below) and to replace it with a balloting system. This is to ensure that the cost of motorcycle ownership in this category is affordable for those who needs it for income. In 2014, I had filed a PQ asking if the COE for Class 2B motorcycles can be abolished and the reply was that the COE is needed to regulate the motorcycle population. I have thus refined my proposal to propose balloting as a substitute for the bidding process.

I understand that in 2013, then-Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo had replied to a parliamentary question about a balloting system for the COE for cars and said that it was not viable as it could encourage a black market. Minister Teo also said that it was not possible to set a price for balloted COEs to deter speculators and yet remain feasible for genuine buyers. That was for cars.

However, I believe that the introduction of a balloting system with conditions attached, similar to what is done for BTO flats could be a way to regulate the Class 2B motorcycle population. Like BTO buyers, prospective owners of 2B motorcycles are more likely to be first time buyers with a genuine need.

If however, the Ministry of Transport intends to retain the bidding system, I would like to ask the Ministry to consider allowing motorcycle buyers to bid for COE under their own name rather than through the dealership. This is to address the issue of possible speculation by dealers. The Land Transport Authority has maintained that there is no evidence of speculation. However, the number of expired or unused Cat D COEs, and the fact that COE prices rose significantly in the May 2021 exercise despite the higher number of motorcycle COEs on offer are signs that LTA may need to update its information.

Next, I would like to propose that MOT consider allowing the extension/renewal of another 5 years for motorcycles whose COE was initially renewed for only 5 years, provided that the motorcycle is used primarily for the earning of income. The current practice is that a motorcycle’s COE can renewed either (i) for a continuous period of 10 years, or (ii) for 5 years only. However, if the COE is renewed for 5 years, it cannot be renewed for another 5 years upon the expiry of the first 5 years. I understand that this additional extension is only available for Category C vehicles, that is, Goods Vehicles and Buses, and is subject to the statutory lifespan for this class of vehicles, currently set at twenty years. Given that there is a segment of our population that depend on their motorcycles for work, I am asking for the same flexibility offered to owners of goods vehicles and buses to be extended to the riders as well.

Additional Proposals

In addition to the changes I have proposed to the COE system for Cat D, I have two other proposals which I believe will benefit Singaporeans who rely on a motorcycle for work. First, I would like to reiterate my call for the Preferential Additional Registration Fee (PARF) rebate for motorcycles with Additional Registration Fee (ARF). I note that then-Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan had said that given that the ARF for most motorcycles are about 15% of the Open Market Value, the PARF rebate value would be too low to incentivise deregistration for motorcycle owners. But I am of the view that most motorcycle owners who choose to deregister their vehicles early would still value receiving the PARF rebate, given that most of them do not earn a high income. There should also be consistency in the payment of ARF and the PARF rebates for all vehicles.

My second proposal is to have allocated areas for dispatch and delivery riders to temporarily park their motorcycles while they are making their deliveries in the Central Business District (CBD) area, regional business hubs such as Changi Business Park and International Business Park, to name a few, as well as shopping malls located in housing estates, especially in the public housing estates.

Most of the time dispatch and delivery riders do not park at the prepared carparks at the areas mentioned above because they will or might incur parking charges and also due to time factor, which both will affect their earnings. In situations where they are being issued a fine for indiscriminate parking, it will further add into their expenses. Additionally, indiscriminate parking also poses a safety hazard for other road users. Having a designated area for dispatch and delivery riders to park their motorcycles would reduce incidents of indiscriminate parking, enhance safety of pedestrians and other road users and it is also time saving for these riders. In short, an allocation of such area will enhance the work routine and life circumstances for these riders.

Sir, I will now speak in our national language.

Hari ini saya ingin mengetengahkan masalah yang dihadapi oleh golongan warganegara Singapura yang bergantung kepada penggunaan motosikal untuk menyara kehidupan mereka dan juga keluarga mereka yang tersayang.

Terutamanya, saya akan menumpukan perhatian kepada sistem Sijil Hak Pemilikan Kenderaan yang lebih dikenali sebagai COE. Khususnya, saya akan mencadangkan beberapa cara untuk memperbaiki sistem COE untuk Kategori D, iaitu bagi motosikal.

Saya pernah beberapa kali bertanya dan juga meyuarakan pendapat dan cadangan saya berkenaan dengan COE bagi motosikal di dalam dewan ini. Saya akan mengetengahkan perkara ini sekali lagi kerana isu COE motosikal membabitkan serta memberi impak kepada pemilik motosikal yang perlukan kenderaan mereka ini untuk mata pencarian bagi menyara kehidupan mereka dan keluarga mereka.

Harga COE Kat D yang melambung

Harga COE untuk Kategori D telah terus meningkat dan makin melambung pula baru-baru ini. Pada tahun 2001, harga termurah ialah $509 di bulan Disember dan yang tertinggi pula tercatat di bulan Januari dengan $1,313. Sepuluh tahun kemudian, pada tahun 2011, harga termurah tercatat di bulan Disember, iaitu $1,481, dan harga tertinggi pula di bulan Mac iaitu $2,534. Pada tahun ini, harganya mencecah $7,501 pada bulan Januari, dan terus melambung ke $8,899 pada bulan Ogos dan $9,689 bagi September.

Para penunggang motosikal terjejas oleh harga melambung.

Tuan, saya ada beberapa cadangan untuk memperbaiki sistem COE untuk motosikal.

Pertama sekali, saya ingin mencadangkan agar COE untuk motosikal diperbahagikan kepada tiga kategori, selaras dengan pembahagian yang sedia-ada dalam sistem lesen menunggang motosikal. Selanjutnya, saya cadangkan bahawa jumlah COE yang tersedia diperuntukkan selaras dengan peratusan penggunaan motosikal di jalanraya dalam setiap kategori. Ini bukan suatu cadangan yang baru. Pada 2016, Menteri Kanan Kementerian Pengangkutan pada masa itu telah menjawab yang langkah tersebut akan menyebabkan ketegangan dan selanjutnya ketidaktentuan dalam harga COE untuk motosikal. Namun telah jelas, perkara yang disebutkan Menteri tetap berlaku kebelakangan ini dalam system COE yang sedia ada. Oleh itu, saya berharap Kementerian Pengangkutan akan mempertimbangkan cadangan saya agar kita boleh mewujudkan suatu sistem yang lebih adil untuk penunggang motosikal di Singapura.

Cadangan kedua, adalah pembatalan sistem pembidaan COE untuk motosikal di Peringkat 2B, iaitu motosikal yang menggunakan enjin di bawah 200 cc dan menggantinya dengan suatu sistem pemilihan tersekat. Saya menyedari yang Kementerian Pengangkutan pernah menjawab suatu soalan berkenaan dengan sistem pemilihan ini untuk COE kereta, dan telah menjelaskan bahawa sistem tersebut akan menyebabkan masalah seperti pasar gelap dan juga menyatakan kesulitan dalam penentuan harga yang wajar untuk COE. Pendapat saya, kami harus mempertimbangkan penciptaan sistem yang serupa dengan sistem yang digunakan dalam pembelian flat BTO. Pihak yang ingin membeli flat BTO dan pihak yang ingin membeli motosikal Peringkat 2B kedua-duanya pasti pembeli kali pertama.

Jika Kementerian Pengangkutan tidak ingin membuat perubahan pada sistem pembidaan yang sedia ada, saya ingin cadangkan yang setiap bakal pembeli boleh menyertai pembidaan dan bukan bergantung kepada para penjual motosikal sahaja. Langkah ini boleh mengurangkan kesan buruk akibat spekulasi oleh pihak penjual motor. Meskipun Penguasa Pengangkutan Darat terus menyatakan yang tiada bukti mengenai spekulasi tersebut, jumlah COE yang telah diperolehi tetapi tidak digunakan dan juga peningkatan harga COE pada bulan Mei yang lalu meskipun jumlah COE yang ditawarkan lebih tinggi, menandakan kemungkinan masalah ini nyata wujud.

Seterusnya, saya ingin mencadangkan yang pemerbaharuan/penglanjutan COE yang telah diperbaharukan untuk lima tahun sahaja boleh dibenarkan untuk motosikal yang digunakan terutamanya dalam tugasan. Sementara ini, pemerbaharuan/penglanjutan tersebut hanya ditawarkan untuk kenderaan dalam Kategori C, iaitu kenderaan mengangkut barang dan bas.

Cadangan Lain

Selain berkenaan COE, saya ingin mengemukakan dua lagi cadangan. Pertama, saya mencadangkan bahawa Yuran Pendaftaran Tambahan Khas (PARF) diadakan juga bagi penunggang motosikal yang membatalkan pendaftaran motosikal mereka awal. Kementerian Pengangkutan pernah menjelaskan, oleh kerana ARF untuk motosikal hanya 15% daripada Nilai Pasaran Terbuka (OMV), jumlah PARF yang boleh diraihkan oleh penunggang agak tidak cukup tinggi untuk mendorong mereka membatalkan pendaftaran motosikal mereka. Memandangkan kebanyakan daripada mereka yang bertugas sebagai penghantar barang tidak menimba gaji tinggi, menerima bayaran PARF, walaupun jumlah yang sederhana, akan dihargai. Lebih penting lagi, dasar harus dikenakan secara konsisten untuk semua kenderaaan.

Kedua, saya mencadangkan yang tempat-tempat khas harus diadakan bagi penggunaan para penghantar di daerah seperti Kawasan Pusat Perniagaan (CBD), hab perniagaan serantau seperti Changi Business Park dan juga kawasan pusat membeli-belah yang terletak di estet perumahan terutama sekali estet perumahan awam. Para penunggang sering mengelakkan daripada menggunakan tempat meletak kenderaan yang disediakan kerana ingin menjimatkan perbelanjaan dan masa. Dalam situasi dimana penuggang disaman kerana meletakkan motosikal sebarangan, jumlah saman akan menjejaskan lagi penyaraan kos kehidupan mereka. Dengan mengadakan tempat-tempat letak motorsikal khas bagi para penghantar di kawasan sebegini, ia dapat membantu mereka menjalankan tugas tanpa menjejaskan keselamatan awam, menjimatkan masa penghantaran sekaligus memperbaiki dan meringankan rutin pekerjaan dan kehidupan mereka.

Sir, in conclusion, the Singapore Government has set targets for the number of vehicles on the roads, including for motorcycles. Towards this end, policies such as the COE, the ARF, ERP and such have been introduced and continuously refined towards this goal. At the same time, we must recognise that there is a segment of our population that relies on motorcycles to make a living, and they have been affected negatively by the impact of the policies. In my speech, I have proposed several refinements to existing policy. Some of these are not new but they have been updated. I hope that the Government will look into these proposals towards improving the conditions for our fellow Singaporeans who have had to endure challenging circumstances.