Sorry, I can’t feel sorry …

…. for the two women who alleged that they were appalingly treated by Malaysian immigration authorities after they went through an unmanned immigration lane in Johor Baru without getting their passports stamped.

Naturally they were arrested when they tried to leave Malaysia soon after.

One might have been more sympathetic had they been regular uneducated aunties who have never set foot out of Singapore be4.

But going by their description — a property agent and an insurance agent, who assuredly must be educated, savvy and worldly wise, especially in issues of what can and can’t be done legal-wise — neither falls into the ditzy auntie category.

So, I hope that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs won’t make too much a song and a dance about their complaint against the Malaysian authorities, not because we are small and Malaysia is big but because when we are in the wrong, we have no right to get angry.

Below is a comprehensive account of the incident from Yahoo. I particularly agree with the portions in red font. If the bootie had been on the other foot and two Malaysian women just slipped thru Sg immigration into the city and then were caught when they were leaving, I’m sure they won’t have been invited to tea at the Istana — even in today’s kinder and gentler Sg.  😆 

Malaysia’s Immigration Department has questioned the version of events given by the two Singaporean women who alleged they were mistreated by immigration officials in Johor Bahru, labelling their explanation “suspicious”.

In a statement obtained by Yahoo! Singapore, Immigration Department Director-General Alias bin Ahmad confirmed the two women were arrested last week under the Immigration Act for not having valid passes for entry into Malaysia.

The duo could have been fined RM10,000 or jailed up to five years and caned six times.

Datuk Alias said the women’s earlier explanation that they were unsure of immigration procedures at the Customs checkpoint was suspicious because “both passports showed that both had been to Malaysia a number of times.”

His statement added their most recent visits were on 31 July 2010 and April 6 this year. As such, the statement said their allegation that there was no immigration officer at the check-in counter was “not reasonable”.

In addition, the statement said “all 38 counters were fully open to the public” on the day.

In earlier reports, the two Singaporean women — Lim Lili and Zhan Tingting (not their real names) — claim the lane they had entered was unmanned.

In particular, Miss Lim said she had been to JB many times with her friends but it was her first time driving across the Causeway. Also because it was her first time experiencing the new biometric scanner at the counter, the estate agent in her 20s said she tried using the intercom to ask an officer for help.

After waiting for five minutes, they decided to move on without getting their passports stamped but after realising their mistake, they returned to the customs checkpoint but were subsequently arrested and sent to a nearby detention centre. There, they were ordered to strip and do squats in the nude.

The statement said the women’s treatment at the detention centre was according to “standard operating procedures” as required for admission of new prisoners. This includes a “thorough examination of the body of the new detainees to ensure that no prohibited goods were hidden in body parts”.

The examination, it said, was conducted by an on-duty female officer in a room in accordance with the standard procedures. The case was referred to the Deputy Public Prosecutor, who finally decided to let the women off with a stern warning the next day.

Meanwhile, both women are set to file an official complaint against the Immigration Department of Malaysia.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) told Yahoo! Singapore on Tuesday night that the two women had met its consular officers and that they wanted to lodge a formal complaint to the Malaysian High Commission. It’s understood the MFA will help forward the complaint.

The spokesperson added its consulate in Johor Bahru has also contacted Malaysian immigration authorities to inquire on the immigration and detention procedures the women were subjected to.

However, other representatives from within the Immigration Department headquarters in Kuala Lumpur that Yahoo! Singaporespoke to said the two women could have “blown the story out of proportion”.

A public relations officer, who wanted to be known only as Haidir, said the two ladies should have waited at the immigration counter for an officer to assist them, even if the booth was unmanned.

Otherwise, they should have approached any of the other officers in adjacent lanes, he added.

“It is common sense for one to get his or her passport stamped upon crossing the Causeway,” said another immigration officer at the Immigration of Johor State headquarters.

“Just like Singapore, you need to get your passport stamped before you enter the country; if not, you will be arrested… so it is the same procedure in Malaysia,” said the officer, who declined to be named.

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4 thoughts on “Sorry, I can’t feel sorry …

  1. Blur, I think they would have done the better thing if they didn’t go thru with their passports unstamped. What cld they have been thinking of? Whether it’s a manned or unmanned lane doesn’t matter. It’s foreign territory.

    For example, if someone leaves their front door open, it doesn’t mean that anyone can walk in if the fancy takes them and won’t run the risk of having the police called to charge them with trespass at minimum!

  2. I believe they said that they thought there might have been another booth up ahead. The new biometric thing threw them off. And the main thing is, they turned back right away when they realised there was no booth ahead – so it’s obvious that it was an honest mistake on their part. And it’s obvious by their turning back that they knew their passports had to be stamped! – that’s not the point.

  3. Thanks for dropping by Angela. Don’t quite get yr point. But the fact is, their passports weren’t stamped n we all know how sticky immigration pple can be, anywhere in the world. Moral of story: never take chances at crossings!

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