S’pore Family Allegedly Asked by JB Officer for a Bribe After Their Passports Weren’t Stamped


Although crossing the causeway over to Malaysia may seem like a stress-relieving, exciting weekend getaway for most of us, it turned into a pretty stressful nightmare for one Singaporean family last weekend.

On Tuesday (10 May), Shin Min Daily News shared the following post on their Facebook page, detailing an unpleasant experience that the family went through at the Malaysian customs.

The post recounted the experience of a family of six that had crossed the borders over to Malaysia last Saturday (7 May).

They had apparently driven through an unattended booth at the Johor Bahru checkpoint along the causeway and did not get their passports stamped.

After an immigration officer from Johor Bahru saw the plight that the family was in, he asked the family for a bribe.

The Facebook post by the Chinese daily soon garnered much attention, which eventually led to a response by Onn Hafiz Ghazi, the Chief Minister of Johor.

He left a comment saying that he would handle “this allegation seriously”.

“(I will) get the necessary authorities to investigate,” he wrote, and added that he hoped for Shin Min to aid with the investigations as well.

Timeline of Events

The family, whose story was told by a woman only named as Mrs Song, told Shin Min that her family had travelled to Johor Bahru via car from Woodlands Checkpoint.

The 42-year-old clerk was travelling with her husband, 43, her two children, nine and 11, as well as her parents. The family had planned to celebrate the Mother’s Day weekend in Johor Bahru.

Signalled to Drive Towards Immigration Counter

When they were at the Johor Bahru checkpoint, an immigration officer apparently took away a safety cone that was placed in one of the lanes.

He then signalled for the family to drive to the immigration counter at that lane to get their passports stamped.

However, when the family reached the counter, they realised that there were no immigration officers on duty at that counter.

Thought They Were Free to Go

Mrs Song then mentioned that they thought that the Malaysian customs had changed in their way of handling visitors entering the country, and that they were free to pass through the customs.

In addition to that, they were able to use their Touch ‘n’ Go stored value card to raise a barrier and drive out of the counter, which all the more made the family think that they didn’t have to find anyone to get their passports stamped.


Mrs Song explained that it had been two years since the last time they drove to Malaysia, and they were also the first car in that lane, leading to greater uncertainty.

Apart from that, she also told The Straits Times that the glass panel between them and the counter was dark and none of them could see any staff behind it.

Asked Checkpoint Officer Why Passports Did Not Need to be Stamped

Later when the family drove to the checkpoint where their vehicle was checked, the family came across an immigration officer and asked him why they did not need to get their passports checked and stamped by an officer.

Upon hearing their question, the officer told them straight away that they were no longer allowed to continue going through the checkpoints, and that they needed to proceed to a nearby office in order to make up for the steps that they had missed.

Song then took all six passports from her family and proceeded to the office.


Told that it was a “Very Serious Offence”, Officer Asked for Bribe

When Song reached the office, an officer around the age of 30 questioned Song for a period of time. He then told her that what the family had just done was a “very serious offence”.

After that, she was instructed to wait outside the office while still holding on to all the passports.

A while later, the same officer, who was wearing flip-flops along with his uniform, walked out of the office and got both Song and her husband together.

He asked the couple if they preferred to “settle this privately or get detained and pay a fine”.

According to the officer, the family would be fined RM $10,000 (approximately S$3,160) if the officer reported them.

However, the officer would only charge them RM $100 (approximately S$32) per adult if they decided to “settle the issue privately”.


Couple Negotiated Bribe Amount

Upon hearing the choices that the officer presented to them, the couple started to try and negotiate with the officer.

Mr Song recalled to ST that the officer felt that the amount that they asked for was “too little”, and that it would not be approved by his superior.

He also raised the issue of there being no staff at the customs counter when they passed by in an attempt to reduce the amount of money they had to pay.

In response to that, the officer asked if there really was no one there, leaving the couple speechless.

Mrs Song also told the officer that they did not have enough cash on hand.


After a round of negotiations, both parties were able to settle for an amount of RM200 (approximately S$64).

Process of Passing Officer Money

After settling on the amount of money that the Song family would pay, the officer told them to put the cash inside a passport. After that, they could go to the office and hand the passport over to the officer.

When they passed the officer the passport, he used his handphone as a “shield” and placed both his phone and the cash right into his pocket.

Mr Song, a Singaporean, mentioned that he still knows the name that was on the officer’s name tag after seeing it at the customs.

He also said that his family knew that it was not right for the officers to ask them for a bribe, but the officer spoke to them in a “threatening” tone and even accused them of crossing the borders illegally.

They then decided that they would pay for the bribe after bargaining with the officers, given that they had both their elderly parents and young children together with them.

What to Do When Faced with Bribes

And if you’re wondering what you should do if you end up in a similar situation, we’ve got you covered too.

Andrew Chen, a Malaysian assemblyman who was once in charge of a task force that examined issues related to traffic congestion at the Johor customs, explained to Shin Min that all individuals who enter Malaysia must get their passports checked and stamped.


With regards to the issue of no staff being on duty at the immigration culture, he said that drivers would be required to get out of their cars and approach an officer in the area for further assistance.

Singapore’s Laws Regarding Bribery

Criminal lawyer Cory Wong from Invictus Law Corporation also noted that Singapore’s corruption laws also cover bribes by Singaporeans overseas.

This applies even if they are the ones who are asked for a bribe.

However, he also urged that Singaporeans who are pressurised into giving in to bribes should reach out for consular assistance, which will allow them to reach the relevant authorities in foreign countries.

Malaysia’s Corruption Rules

As for Malaysia, individuals can report cases of potential corruption anonymously to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

They can do so through various methods, such as through its hotline at 1-800-886-000, email at [email protected], online and letters.

If public servants are found to have misused their position to “receive gratification”, they may face up to 20 years’ imprisonment. They will also face a fine of up to five times the bribe’s value or RM10,000, whichever value is higher.

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Similar Event Happened to Another Singaporean

And it seems like the Song family weren’t the only ones who faced such an issue.

On Wednesday (11 May), Shin Min reported on a similar experience that a 32-year-old Singaporean woman went through.

According to the post, the woman also drove through the immigration counter and paid the toll fare after she noticed that no staff was present at the booth.

Likewise, she was also asked to enter a “small room”, and an officer found out that her passport was not stamped by immigration staff.

After that, she was given a choice between an “illegal immigration” fine of RM1,000 (approximately S$318) or to resolve the issue privately by paying the officer RM$100 (approximately S$32).

Even though she decided to pay the RM100 to the officer, she filed a police report the next day upon returning to Singapore.

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Featured Image: tristan tan / shutterstock.com