Car Ownership in Singapore

Lanjiao understand?

What car ownership?

Whoever thinks that he or she owns a car in Singapore must be fucking deluded.

When I was planning to leave Singapore, I called up LTA to request for a permission to do something unusual, unusual in Singapore context at least. I have been honest enough to admit I did not plan to migrate. Although I obtained an Aussie PR that allows me to live and work in Australia permanently I did not plan to actually do that. You see, I was bo chee like most Singaporeans. I still am. If not, I would have shown every Minister I bump into my middle finger during GE walkabouts. Being bo chee to migrate, in fear of "failing" or "losing everything", I simply wanted to take a long break in Australia, keeping the option of returning to my safe haven where the river always flow. At the same time, I could not afford to lose all my savings while doing so. Thus the PR that allowed me to work in Australia would come in handy. I could then do whatever I needed to, a menial job that was easy to find, just to earn enough money to pay for living expenses. That way, I would then only incur opportunity costs of not working in Singapore. At least the long trip would be funded. Money. That was all I could think of. I was after all, just a typical Singaporean like any of you.

To extend a PR visa for another 5 years, a PR visa holder must physically stay in Australia for 2 years out of 5 to be eligible for extension. Thus by staying in Australia for 2 years and returning to Singapore after that, I could buy myself at least another 6 years (if you do the maths) before I must leave Singapore again to extend the visa. That way, we can save enough money or do whatever mental preparation and shit to make another self funded long holiday or a permanent move. 6 years is a long time, adequate enough to grow some balls. That was my initial plan but do not laugh just yet. That was bo chee but actually workable, if you think about it.

If you have been following, you know what happened next. Albany came along and twat all my plans. Then I realise cute little daughters accelerate balls growth but that wasn't the point of this post. Apologies for the rumbling. I shall continue my story.

With that plan in mind, to return to Singapore after two years, I wanted to retain my van, a superbly well taken care Renault Kangoo, probably the shiniest van in Singapore. I used that as my wedding vehicle, in fact. So there was a very strong emotional tie with it. I pleaded with LTA to allow me to keep it by parking my van at the MSCP below my parent's HDB flat. I told them I would be happy to pay for season parking for the entire duration, since I would be using the parking space. That would only be fair. However, I requested for LTA to allow me not to buy car insurance as well as exempt me from road tax. I reckoned since nobody was going to drive the van at all during my absence (I was even prepared to swear on a black book) it wouldn't be fair to charge me road tax. All I got was a firm, "No!"

I tried looking for someone to adopt my van, by offering them the van free. All they need to pay was the running costs. Alas, there was no takers and my time ran out. I was forced to sell the van. With that, my final emotional tie to a non-living thing in Singapore was broken, since all my favourite old haunts had been tore down and redeveloped.

When Lex brought up his dilemma whether to extend the COE of his car or buy a new one, it stirred up a little anger in me that I thought had been completely extinct in the volcano inside me. When he carelessly said, "I need to own a car for my job," I erupted and gave him a lecture on what is real car ownership because I still feel damn dulan about it.

Look at the Aussies. If you are going overseas or get sick of the colour of your car, you can simply rip out your car plates, go to the licensing centre and hand them over the counter. You will be refunded your rego (road tax) pro-rated and no more questions asked. No one will be turning up one day to tow your car away either, so long you park your unregistered car properly (like, in your driveway/garage). A decade later, if you remember there is a lao pok chia in your backyard and want to drive it again, you can apply for a temporary permit to drive it over the pit (like Vircom in Singapore) and if your car passes the checks, you will be allowed to register your car and drive it on the road again. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what I call car ownership.

Say what you want about Singapore's policies on car ownership long term rental. Why don't you tell me what you will think if I tell you that you have to plug in your refrigerator at home and switch it on all the time, else you are not allowed to keep it. You will tell me to fuck off because you own your fucking fridge and you will do whatever you want to it, including converting it to a bathtub if you please.

Great, now you understand what car ownership really means.

I don't know if Lex agreed or not. He looked really miserable having to listen to my non stop rant. Poor chap but I bet he didn't know it was a grand plan to make him miss his wife a lot. Haha.