I am happy to report that the Acting Chief Executive of the Land Authority of Singapore, Mr Lim Bok Ngam, has replied to me regarding an issue that I have been pursuing for more than two months now.
It concerns a fee, which I consider unreasonably high, imposed on owners who retain their car numbers for use on second-hand cars.
I wanted to know why LTA is levying a $1,300 fee on such owners when it is charging just $100 for those who retain their numbers for a brand new car.
I accept part of Mr Lim's explanation for the difference in fees, but I am still at a loss over how it could possibly charge such a huge difference.
I have responded to Mr Lim's email and urged the LTA to take remedial action as I believe the huge fee is illogical, unfair and exploitative.
LTA's Acting CEO, Mr Lim Bok Ngam's explanation to me on August 31:
"I refer to your email dated 27 Aug 2010 and the earlier replies by my staff to you.
"I have looked into your feedback on the fees payable to use a retained
registration number on an existing car vis-a-vis a new one.
"I wish to explain that different fees are charged for the use of a retained number on a brand new car and an existing car as the processes involved are different.
"Unlike a brand new vehicle that has no past records in our vehicle registry, an existing vehicle would have its historical records since the day it was registered and these historical records must be updated accurately.
"At the same time, we are also aware that some owners do choose to use new registration numbers to replace the numbers on existing cars. As the
processes for replacing the number on an existing vehicle with either a new number or a retained number are similar, the fee structure to retain an existing number for use on another existing vehicle is comparable to the use of a new registration number on an existing vehicle.
"Retention of numbers is one of the services provided by the Land Transport Authority to give motorists the opportunity to use a number of his/her choice on a new or existing vehicle upon payment of relevant fees. Those who do not wish to change the registration number on their existing vehicle will not need to pay any fee."
My response to Mr Lim:
"Thank you for your explanation. If I may, I would like to make the following comments:
"1. I accept your argument that a different fee has to be charged for using a retained number on an existing car as against a retained number on a brand new car because the processes are different. Yes, an existing car has a record and it takes more time to process whereas a new car does not have a record and therefore is easier to process.
"My question is: Is the process for the former so much more difficult that LTA has to charge 12 times more compared to the process for a new car? I hope you can justify that.
"In my case, the existing car that I bought was not even one year old and there was hardly any historical record to process. When I was first told about the payment of $1,300, I was flabbergasted because the difference is beyond the imagination of any ordinary person.
"2. You said the fee paid by some owners to use new registration numbers to replace the numbers on existing cars is comparable to that paid by an owner who retains his number on an existing car because the process is similar.
"With due respect, Mr Lim, you are not comparing apples with apples.
I am not referring to the use of new registration numbers and therefore it should not be used to argue your case.
"I am just puzzled over the LTA's logic for charging $1,300 to retain a number for an existing car as against $100 for number retention to be used on a new car.
"As I said, I accept your argument that there is a different administrative process used to retain a number for an existing car against one for a new car.
"But I cannot believe that there should be such a huge difference in fee imposed on the owner who retains his number for an existing car. It is simply illogical, unfair and exploitative.
"I must declare here that I have no self-interest in this as I have already paid the $1,300 to retain the number for my used car.
"However, I am pursuing this because, as a citizen, when I see an injustice staring me in the face, it is my duty to point it out.
"I humbly urge the LTA to recognise the discriminatory policy and take the necessary remedial action.
"Thank you again for taking the time to engage me."
I am not hopeful that the LTA will agree with my point of view as it would be difficult to make a turnaround which might seem like a "loss of face".