Thanks for the welcome !
To give you an idea of the prices, roughly, a Versys right now brand new, latest model (2011 if I'm not mistaken, right?), is sold at close to 23,000 SGD = 18,300 USD.
In Thailand, it costs 285,000 THB = 11,700 SGD = 9,300 USD.
Importing a vehicle requires to pay an import tax. However, whether you import it yourself or buy it in a shop, you're absolutely right, you need to fork out a certificate price that allows you do ride it. (That's what regulates how many vehicles are in circulation). As of today, that certificate costs about SGD 2,000.
So the idea is to cut off the bike shop margin from the price.
If bought in Thailand, from what I have researched so far, there will be an import tax of up to 40% of the bike's price, so the bike with the certificate would cost around 18,000 SGD instead of 23,000 SGD.
With those extra 5,000 SGD there's lots of new shiny accessories that can be added
The bigger the bike, the bigger the margin bike shops make. The import tax is calculated on the base of the bike's price in the foreign country + how much it cost you to get it to Singapore, so Thailand seems like a great option.
It's just that there's a lot of steps to go through, very clearly defined (SG style), but nonetheless, a bit of leg work to do. That's why most bikers here do not want to bother, and prefer to pay the price and just ride off the bike shop directly.
I'm afraid I don't know how it works in Malaysia.. I know their price for the Versys is between the Thai and SG price, but I don't know how they import system works..
PS: NZ is on my top 3 countries I hope I can one day tour on a bike. Never been there, always wanted to, but now that I ride a motorcycle, I don't want to visit it any other way ! I don't do well in the cold, but for NZ, I'd ride in the snow and feel extra happy I'm sure, what a beautiful beautiful country !