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02 January 2010

On the 20 Litre Fuel Cap

On 16th December 2009, a new policy began to take effect: the Malaysian government's policy to restrict sale of petrol to foreign vehicles to a maximum of 20 litres of fuel. This policy came with a caveat: It applies only to petrol stations within 50 kilometres from the Malaysian borders. (Ref: The Star, 16th December 2009. 20-litre ruling takes effect now.) Readers were further informed that:
Under the Supply Control Act 1974, any individual who violate its regulations could be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed for up to three years or both while for a company (petrol station), the penalty is it could be a fine of up to RM250,000 and/or its licence revocation.

The most obviously affected crowd would be Singaporean car owners, who drive to Johor Bahru. It was reported on a Singaporean news portal, however, that some Singaporean car owners have found a simple solution to the 20-litre fuel cap: Just drive to the next petrol station, and fill up with another 20 litres. (Ref: AsiaOne, 29th December 2009. Cap on selling 20 litres of petrol for foreign cars near Malaysian border.) Petrol station owners were also quoted in the AsiaOne report saying that they only limited Singaporean drivers to purchasing 20 litres of petrol. If such drivers want to go to another petrol station to buy another 20 litres, it is difficult for these petrol station owners to stop them.

The effect of the ban is that foreign vehicles can only fill up to 20 litres within the designated area of 50 km from the border. However, if a Singaporean were to go about doing his business in Johor Bahru, and remain within 50 km from the border, for an extended period of time: Wouldn't it be logical that the Singaporean vehicle would eventually run out of fuel? The ban would be effective, and its naysayers few, if all foreign vehicles are only in Malaysia for a few minutes. Real life, on the other hand, includes the unforeseen and the unexpected. And running out of petrol, which remaining within 50 km of the border, is such an unexpected occasion.

Singaporean drivers, it may be noted, are fully cognizant of the facts and have found several workaround solutions. On 25th December 2009, the Star reported:
  • They would use credit cards issued by Malaysian banks to pay for petrol;
  • They would pay for the first 20 litres by cash and the balance by credit card;
  • They would fill up 20 litres at one station and fill up 20 litres at another station;
  • They would fill 20 litres at a petrol station, and return to the same station to fill another 20 minutes.
(Ref: The Star, 25th December 2009. Credit card way to beng 20-litre fuel cap rule.)

Shell's V-Power is exempted from the 20-litre fuel cap policy -- at least in Johor Bahru. (Ref: The Star, 27th December 2009. Dept: Shell's V-Power exempted from 20-litre ruling.) On 30th December 2009, it was reported that the 20-litre fuel cap was not a problem to Singaporeans. (Ref: The Star, 30th December 2009. Singaporeans Okay With Fuel Rule)

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