Crossing the border between Singapore and Malaysia can often be a stressful experience, primarily due to the notorious traffic jams, which usually result in hour-long waits at the checkpoints.
However, a Singaporean couple’s recent encounter with an immigration officer at the Tuas Checkpoint turned into an unexpectedly frustrating ordeal.
What started as a complaint about a Malaysian officer’s way of handling their passport stamps allegedly resulted in a six-month ban from entering Malaysia.
The incident, shared on social media, has sparked discussions among netizens regarding the appropriate response to such situations.
Was Unhappy With the Way Immigration Officer Stamped Their Passports
In a Facebook that gained over 2,500 shares and 1,300 comments, Mr Abdul Qayyuum Rahim detailed a negative experience he and his wife endured at the Tuas Checkpoint when they entered Johor Bahru on 20 May 2023.
The couple was already growing impatient after waiting an hour due to the limited number of open counters, which was only two.
Their mood took a further downturn when a female Malaysian immigration officer allegedly demanded, in what Mr Abdul Qayyuum described as an impolite tone, that they remove their passport covers for stamping.
While most travellers would promptly leave after their passports were stamped, Mr Abdul Qayyuum wasn’t happy with how the officer stamped them.
Mr Abdul Qayyuum’s passport had a blank page intentionally left by the officer, while his wife’s passport had a stamp that was scratched off with a pen for unknown reasons.
Though Singapore passports come in two sizes, jumbo and regular, each containing 48 and 32 pages, respectively, Mr Abdul Qayyuum must have thought this stamping method was “wasting” the space on his passport as he proceeded to lodge a complaint against the officer at the customs office.
Failed to Lodge Complaint Against Officer; Got Refused Entry From Malaysia Instead
Unfortunately, the situation took a turn for the worse when Mr Abdul Qayyuum and his wife attempted to address the issue.
They could not identify the female officer at the counter as she did not have a name tag, so they approached a different male officer for guidance on filing a complaint against her.
To their dismay, the male officer, who was dressed in casual attire consisting of a dry-fit t-shirt and jacket rather than the official immigration officer uniform, simply instructed them to make the complaint online without providing any clear instructions on how to do so.
This led Mr Abdul Qayyuum’s wife to persist in seeking further information about the online complaint procedure, which aggravated the male officer further.
He responded with increased hostility, raising his voice at the couple.
Eventually, he directed them to lodge the complaint outside the customs office and escorted them to the second level.
However, instead of the expected complaint process, they were unexpectedly issued a “Refusal of Entry” letter by a female assistant superintendent named “Rexsus”.
The letter declared they were refused entry into West Malaysia for at least six months, classifying them as “prohibited immigrants”.
The Immigration Department of Malaysia defines “prohibited immigrants” as individuals affiliated with organisations that oppose the established government or if reliable sources, including governments through official or diplomatic channels, have unfavourable information on them.
Despite questioning the assistant superintendent further on why they were classified as “prohibited immigrants”, Mr Abdul Qayyuum claimed she could not provide a valid reason for the ban.
Instead, she raised her voice sarcastically, presenting them with the choice of a six-month or one-year ban from the country.
Not the First Time Singaporeans Faced Troubles At Malaysian Customs
Mr Abdul Qayyuum Rahim also revealed that his friend had encountered a similar situation.
Her boyfriend questioned why an officer had stamped the centre of his passport page, which resulted in the couple receiving the same “Refusal of Entry” letter.
Like Mr Abdul Qayyuum and his wife, his friend also faced hostility from Malaysian officers who raised their voices and provided no assistance throughout the situation.
These incidents of difficulties at Malaysia’s customs are not isolated cases.
Other Singaporeans reportedly encountered troubles of a different nature, where officers intentionally refrain from stamping their passports upon entry.
Multiple reports suggest that this is a common practice, with officers using this as an opportunity to accuse Singaporeans of “illegal entry” to extort money from them.
As such, apart from his rant, Mr Abdul Qayyuum has also called for information on the “proper immigration procedures” at Malaysia’s customs.
He believes that Malaysian immigration authorities should establish stricter controls over their officers’ conduct and the treatment of foreigners.
He argues that immigration processes at Malaysia’s customs should be standardised to avoid the wastage of precious passport pages, particularly considering the cost of Singaporean passports, which is around $70.
Netizen Provides New Perspective to the Story
While Mr Abdul Qayyuum’s account of his experience has garnered sympathy from some netizens, others were less supportive.
They questioned the significance of his concern regarding the stamping of his passports by immigration officers.
Others also accused him of behaving like a Karen, suggesting that he should be satisfied with just being granted entry into the country.
Interestingly, a comment that has since been deleted provided a different perspective on the incident at the customs office.
The netizen claimed to have witnessed the events on the second level of the customs office, where Mr Abdul Qayyuum and his wife were present.
Contrary to Mr Abdul Qayyuum’s portrayal of the officers acting unreasonably, the netizen stated that the couple was involved in an argument with the female officer and allegedly provoked her until she had to raise her voice to silence them.
The netizen further mentioned that their behaviour caused delays for others waiting to obtain visas at the customs office, creating a scene in the process.
In the meantime, Mr Abdul Qayyuum has provided an update stating that he lodged an online complaint through the Malaysia Immigration Portal on 21 May 2023.
Still, he has yet to receive a response regarding the matter.
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