Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Simple Comparison Tells the Story

I always recommend my fellow Malaysian friends to make a journey to Johor from Singapore, through public transport. The experience gained through this short journey hopefully will help them understand better on problems Malaysia is facing right now.

Perhaps I will give some short introduction on "how to get to JB", to benefit the readers. The journey starts with a ride in MRT system to Kranji station, the gateway to JB. Passengers are then required to transit using bus system for a short 5 mins ride to reach Singapore's Woodlands Checkpoint. At this point, you are required to queue according to your nationality for immigration clearance. Upon clearance, you will board the bus again and proceed to Malaysia's JB Checkpoint. The interesting stories follow when I have reached JB's Checkpoint:

  • First impression that crossed my mind, especially after you have experienced the clean and comfortable environment at Singapore Checkpoint is "where is the maintenance?". I can understand if a place is old and you don't like the old fashioned design, but I can't agree with dirty floor, leaking roof, stained glass, rubbish and aircon-less environment when this is simply a maintenance issue. I know they are aircons in the building but if it is not working then what is the point of having one? Is this the way we should treat our fellow visitors and tourists? This is simply "encouraging".
  • OK, forget about the dirty old place, let's move on for the immigration clearance. The second question that struck me is "why nobody is checking the passport?". I understand the "traffic" is pretty heavy but just imagine all the Malaysians just need to flash their passport to the officer while passing through the checkpoint. Sometimes you are not required to do so since the officers don't even bother to look at you. There is no check conducted to match the photo, not even a simple check on whether is it a valid Malaysian passport, unless these officers are so smart to stereotype all small red covered booklet as a "valid", "genuine", "Malaysia" Passport that belongs to the "flasher".
  • I queued for autogate clearance since I was using an International Passport. It is such a nice system where you slot in the passport and with sophisticated thumbprint verification, I guess there will be no foul play. There is an officer is actually sitting beyond the glass window, monitoring the autogate station but only then I realised that he is having a good nap inside the cool air-con room, while all the tourists are queueing sweatily in a extremely hot afternoon. My instant reaction is "what the ....?". I can offer simple solution to this, sack the guy, and put those money into good use, especially when I learnt that our poor police officer is earning RM650 per month! I believe a thumprint verification is sufficient and a sleeping officer is not required. Talking about redundancy.
  • Anyway, I waited for a while when I realised that the system is not working, so I decided to do it the manual way. I proceeded to the desk but the officer has decided to shorten my pain, by asking me to proceed without having to show and stamp my passport. I think if I have gone missing in Malaysia, I must have been lost somewhere at the causeway, since I was not even present in Malaysia as per the record.
  • Finally, with all the grudges I managed to "clear" the custom. On my way out, I can hear a lot of people shouting for "taxi, taxi". I can still remember an incident happened few years backed, when my wife mistook this "taxi" as the official "taxi" and boarded a minivan with hefty "taxi fares" that she ended up paying for a trip to Senai Airport. I didn't know touting is legal in Malaysia, and anyone can drive a"taxi" if they want to, unless the rules have changed so fast that I was unable to keep up to.
  • I think I forgot to mention about the numerous beggars that you can see when you are walking along the underpass. Our dear government, please do something to help them. If they are genuinely in need of money, please refer them to the relevant department for assistance. If they are just trying to extort some money from the kind hearted visitors, then please help us and put them in jail.
Can someone please:

  • Maintain our lovely checkpoint
  • Check every single passport
  • Sack the sleeping beauty
  • Fix the autogate
  • Arrest the tout
  • Help the beggars
I am just wondering, if you are a tourist, be it man or woman, young or old, what would you think of Malaysia when you witness all these through a short 30mins journey from Singapore to Malaysia Checkpoint. You don't even have to go deep into Malaysia jungle to understand our culture since a simple comparison tells the story! What a huge disappointment!

Link: Getting passport stamped, did I not try to?


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