JOHOR BARU • It is not just Malaysians who enjoy the tax-free vacation of their country of three months. Singaporeans also benefit from the zero-rating of the tax on goods and services (GST) in order to have their messages spent on the Straits of Johor.
Because Hari Raya Haji was an official holiday in both Malaysia and Singapore on Wednesday, many Singaporeans drove over the Causeway for shopping, without the chance to benefit from the duty free holiday before it ends on August 31st.
The unpopular 6 percent GST in Malaysia received a zero valuation on 1 June of the new Mahathir Mohamad administration.
It was completely demolished after the parliament had withdrawn the law on the tax on goods and services this week.
The government will replace GST with a sales and service tax that is expected to be implemented next month.
Among the shopping complexes that saw a flurry of activity were Johor Baru City Square, Komtar JBCC, KSL City, Plaza Pelangi, AEON Bukit Indah and AEON Tebrau.
The Johor Premium Outlets (JPO) in Kulai have also been busy with its range of short-term designer clothes, shoes, handbags and watches out of season.
Among the shoppers was the Singaporean businessman Teo Zhang Wei, 41, who said that the weaker ringgit and the duty-free vacation had caused many of his compatriots to shop here.
"Johor Baru is always the favorite destination for Singaporeans, because the prices here are much lower than at home. But shopping, my wife and I also enjoy the time to relax and go to the spa," he said.
Housewife Janice Teng, 52, goes to places like JPO to do some early Christmas shopping.
"Christmas can be gone for four months, but in the tax-free Malaysia it feels like Christmas is early for me.
"I buy Christmas presents to prevent last-minute shopping in Singapore if it can become expensive," she said.
Technician Abu Bakar Salim (49), who visited relatives for Hari Raya Haji, also found time to buy things during this short-lived duty-free vacation.
"I've shopped here on the market and in shopping centers," he said.
THE STAR / ASIA NEWS NETWORK