Travelling basics 101: always make sure that your passport is stamped.
Just because it’s a given and your passport is stamped 99.9% of the time, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it.
For 49-year-old Tay Mui Hiang and her 46-year-old husband Koh Meng Soon, the 0.1% befell them.
Although the couple had good intentions in not wanting to hold up the queue on the highway, they soon found that their passports were not stamped halfway down the Causeway.
So what do you do when life threw an unexpected lemon at you? You catch it, you panic, then you use it.
Upon arriving at the Woodlands checkpoint, the customs officer apparently told them that they needn’t worry and turn back to get it stamped.
Wrong answer, apparently.
The correct answer? It is an immigration offence in Malaysia, and you may be detained, fined or even banned from the country.
Words from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs itself.
Of course, what comes after is panic. But here, we also teach you how to solve your problem step by step (though it’d be better if nobody would face this problem).
What to Do if You Realise Your Passport Isn’t Stamped
Step 1: Get hold of the Malaysian immigration authorities.
Don’t go to their office because you obviously will have to pass through the checkpoint and you can’t; instead, call them at +603 8000 8000.
Tell them your problem, and they’ll probably direct you to the JB checkpoint.
Step 2: Head down to the JB checkpoint (I’m looking at you customs officer) to resolve the problem.
And don’t do this a month or a year later simply because you didn’t need to travel back to Malaysia; it’d be a greater hassle to settle it after a long time.
Step 3: When in trouble, call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to come to the rescue.
We’ve got your back with their number: +65 6379 8000. Now go and chase that girl!
Step 4: If all else fails (how?) and you actually get detained, get help from the Singapore High Commission in KL by calling +603 2161 6277.
As with all the other services, they abide by the office hours; so don’t annoy them after that!
Granted, if you’re detained you really don’t have a say in annoying them or not. So reach out to them at +60 16661 0400 instead.
If all four steps are unable to save you, then are you sure you didn’t commit a disastrous crime in Malaysia? Did you talk about Singapore’s hawker culture? Did you say that Singapore’s laksa is better than Malaysia’s laksa?
Although all these overseas calls may take a toll on your phone expenses, it is the sacrifice that has to be taken for your actions.
For Mdm Tay and her husband, they suffered a loss of $396 (RM1,200) for having to cancel their plans to Genting just in case they got detained.
Though the couple were lucky enough that the issue could be solved easily by going down to JB, it will probably be much harder in the face of other countries when travelling by plane.
So let’s not take for granted our travelling basics 101 textbook; after all, it’d be a pity if we can’t travel anywhere with the Singaporean passport that we’ve been blessed with!
And also, if you really want to tell the world that Singapore chendol is better than Malaysia chendol, do it privately. You all know how serious Singapore and Malaysia take their food.
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