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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A day at Malaysian Immigration

When I asked around on Twitter and Facebook about the most efficient and most convenient Immigration office to renew my daughter's passport I got many suggestions. Shah Alam, Wangsa Maju, Subang Terminal 2, Damansara Heights...Thank you all for your suggestions.  But as Subang was the most convenient location from home (and I'd used them once before) I chose to drive there. With my 10 year-old daughter and 7 year-old son in tow. Mainly because he was bored at home and I was going to bring my iPad with me.  When I arrived at Terminal 2 the scene that confronted me confirmed my fears.  It was the school holidays and the place was packed!
There's 20 meters of counters and 10 of waiting space in front of them. Why?

Well, nobody's fault but my own for procrastinating. Surprisingly, we found a parking bay not too far away from what looked like a very dilapidated Terminal 2 building. You know the usual signs. Broken windows. Uncleared litter and garbage. Overgrown grass.  And floors that hadn't been cleaned since the last plane took off I think.  We walked past the make-shift canteen. And past a glassed-off area the size of a low-cost housing flat bedroom (read minuscule) which I discovered housed the passport renewal machines. I asked the pegawai standing guard at the door what I should do.

"Have 2 passport photos, your passport and IC and money ready."
No need for forms? 
"No need." I was impressed.

But of course I soon realised that my daughter did not have her passport photos ready. 

"No problem, Encik. You can take photos inside." Wah!

Inside meant the main hall. When we went there we were confronted by the sight of scores of sweaty men, women and screaming children. All there to apply or renew passports I presume.  There was an especially long queue which I eventually found out was the line for the photo-taking facility.

 4 passport-sized photos for RM10 + 45 minutes was a facility. It had one of those photo-taking machines that you find in archades and malls. You go in, sit down in front of a mirror, put in your coins, smile-FLASH-and you're done. But this photo-kiosk charged RM10 for 4 colour passport photos and was never meant to perform high volume photo reproductions. Hence the long queue which took 45 minutes from queue-up to photo-taking. This little example of entrepreneurial skill was manned by 2 rather disinterested silent, gentlemen who looked like off-duty pegawai from one government department or another. You know the type. I later found out that the photo-kiosk was operated by the cooperative of the Immigration Department. Good what. If only they'd see the potential and put in a little better maintenance or update the machine or even add additional equipment so the turnaround would be faster and more lucrative.

Halfway down the queue it occurred to me that I hadn't made it clear to the pegawai I asked that I was renewing my 10 year-old daughter's passport and not my own. So, leaving the young lady in the queue I went back to the machine room and asked again.

"Oh untuk budak ya? Then machine tak boleh. You go to counter #1, get a form, fill it up, make photocopy of your IC and photocopy of child's birth certificate and then submit at the counter."

Oh! So I go to Counter #1.

"Can have a borang please?"
I retreated to fill up the form. Brought it back to Counter #1
"Gambar mana?"

Oh must get gambar first. Back to standing in the photo queue. I go to get photocopies of my IC and my daughter's birth certificate.

 The ever-present A4 notice on the window

The photo-copying service was also operated by the guys who were taking the photos. Which also was one of the reasons why the photo queue was so long. There's just so much a man can do la!

Finally, after 45 minutes we got the passport photos and the photocopies.

Back to Counter #1 and was told to wait for my number to be called to submit the renewal application. Another hour later our number came up. Yay!  Rather short-lived joy. 

"Where's your wife?", asked the counter lady. Wah! That's nice I thought. Maybe she's one of MamaMin's customers.

"She's at home," I replied.

"Where is your wife? Because you cannot renew your daughter's passport. Only your wife can do. Because your case under section (she quoted some number)." 

I could feel my blood pressure rising. Stay calm.

"But I've spent almost half the day here only to be told that I cannot do this?  How can la, Cik?"

Well, okay I wasn't exactly that calm la. But I was not rude. Tell you why later.

"Cannot. Only your wife can do." 

"But why wasn't I told earlier so that I would not have wasted my time? Look, I am not angry with you ya Cik. It's just that your department's system sucks."

"If you like you can speak to my boss."

Yes I would like that very much. I was cleared through that magic door that separates the sweaty, screaming plebs from the powerful pegawai's. After waiting for less than a minute, some guy in civvies comes over, looked at my application, scrawls something on it, looks at me and says, "Ok?" and walks away. I don't know what his 'okay' was about although I detected a hint of resentment in his tone. Don't know why. I was nice what. Then the lesser pegawai ushers me through the magic door back into the sweaty masses.

"Okay, my boss say you can pay now but your wife has to come and collect the passport together with your daughter. Now you wait for your number then pay." 

And so we waited another half hour to be called to the payment counter. I paid the dues and got a receipt and was told that the passport will be ready for collection in 2 hours time. But what the lady didn't say was that the counter closes at 4.30 and the 2 hours meant the passport would be ready at 5pm. And so my wife will have to make a trip there tomorrow to get through the final phase of the Malaysian child passport renewal process. No wonder Malaysian passports are so valuable on the black market. It takes a lot of effort and time to make one.

What I want to say before I end this rant is that the officers of the Jabatan Imigresen in Terminal 2 that I met this day, except for the 'boss', were friendly, smiling and genuinely helpful. And I salute them for doing their jobs in that kind of environment.  The office air-conditioning system was not working.

 Hi-tech cooling system for the over-worked photo machine

It was dirty and badly maintained. Broken chairs, wet floors, peeling wallpaper, uncleared rubbish. And the department system sucks big time.

A big TERIMA KASIH to the counter staff of Jabatan Imigresen Terminal 2 Subang. 

I think you all should write a long letter to the minister of home affairs and tell him about your working conditions. He probably doesn't know and that's why he's spending time and money instead on catching people for sedition on the Internet. Tell him la that maybe if he helps you all improve your delivery system there might not be seditious writings on the Internet. Right?

Oh there is one more thing. Have you ever wondered why Malaysian government departments service counters are always designed width-wise? A long row of counters. But a very short waiting space in front of the counters.  All of them are like that. LCCT, Johor 2nd Link Immigration, Terminal 2 Immigration...

If you know a lot of people are going to be queuing you make lots of space in front of the counters, right? It's not rocket science what.



Anonymous said...

Certainly rakyat tak didahulukan.

bujang said...

Dear Patrick

Interesting reading on your visit to the Immigration Dept. You give useful infor for all who either apply or renew passports. Just to know the reason why they need your wife to renew the passport, cause your story just stops there.

Anonymous said...

Bagi Pihak EEEEmigrasi - Selamat datang ke Malaysia; Welllcome to Malaysia. mau keluarkan?

Anonymous said...

i agree with you that the counter staff in the immigration dept in subang is quite cheerful despite the appaling and depressing bwork environment. Imagine in today's world, in the klang valley in an important govt dept, no functioning aircon-- just stand fans and that too the ordinary stand fans.
In Feb 1st, 2009,i was there to renew my son's passport and since thjat day was a holiday for kuala lumpur the place was packed. I was there from 2.00pm and by the time i managed to pay it was about 8.00pm and the staff did not seem pissed off unlike other govt depts.
The lesson i learned is that never ever go there during schoolholidays; instead take time during a normal day when the schools are open( better still during exam time) and at that time to renew or get a new passport is a breeze -- very fast as there are no crowds at all.
cheers, keep on writing

Richard Loh said...

The counter staffs of the passport division from the immigration department are always very patient and helpful, I can vouch for that at both the passport department in Penang Island and the mainland which I had been too.

I see more unfriendly services now coming from the private sector, such as certain banks and post office, post laju.

Major (Rtd) D.Swami said...

That is Kerismuddin's Department at work for ya!@#####

Anonymous said...

Next time:

1. Go to the same place

2. Arrive before 8am.

Pity the kiosk fast-track service wasnt working for u.
I've been there early on a work day - did the kiosk thing - went back to work in KL - and by lunchtime & during my lunchbreak* I collected my renewed passport.

*Yes, it was a Friday++ lunchbreak

kat said...

I reckon you should have gone to the Pusat Bandar Damansara branch. I renewed all our passports there in Aug quite quickly and hassle-free (but I didn't know father alone cannot renew passport. It used to be mother alone cannot do it. I think it was under Abdullah's administration that changed it). No major long queues, even when hubs and dotter had to re-take pictures from the photo booth because the ones we brought weren't suitable. Then again the chappy manning the booth didn't have to deal with photocopying. But had to pick up the following day lah. And that was quite fast too - zipped in and out within 15 minutes.

Plus points for PBDsara - got plenty of shops/restaurants around (Giant and McD nearby), so you can makan, photocopy, take picture, etc. with relative ease. Subang - apa pun tadak.

And yes, the staff at PBD Immigration Dept are quite efficient. A good mix of 1Msia too. I saw quite a few East Msians working there.

So far, I have been very impressed with Immigration and Income tax dept counter staff. Malaysia Boleh! (and I mean it sincerely this time..) :)

patrickteoh said...

Bujang, I don't know the reason they are insisting that my wife be present. I will try and find out. Today nobody there could tell me.

Alvin said...

Patrick, reminds me almost exactly of my experience this year during the CNY break. Serve me right for choosing school breaks to do these things. But then what, take my kid out of school (ok, it was kindy)? I guess if anything you didn't suffer alone. Should check out the Indonesian embassy, when I renewed my maid's passport. Got it all done in under 4 hours - renewed passport in hand. Oh well, Malaysia bolehlah...just have to put their heart to it.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

LOL at the fan photo! My blood would have boiled too if I had to go through what you had to.

Anonymous said...


This is an improvement actually. Give 10-15 years ago--nobody knows where to queue! or not! But school holidays bad time. And officers really need to know the steps or else each officer gives you a different answer. At least they are manning their own copiers! At EPF--the only copier for public use belongs to a kedai runcit on the premises. Only one in the building! Asinine betul.

Anonymous said...

The is a simple reason why when applying passports for children, BOTH parents have to be present. What is if the parents are divorcing or going through a custody battle? You can't have one parent making off with the kids, now, can you? That's why both parental consent are needed, unless one parent can prove they are given sole custody of the children. That's the logic anyways, but I don't know if that's the reason for it in Malaysia. The rules and reason are not always made clear to the people.

The other thing I don't understand is the 'photostate' thingy. Why do applicants have to provide photocopies of the documents? It is the responsibility of the officer on duty to verify the original documents and then make copies for his files, if the department needs them. Why is that responsibility put onto the applicant? That just seems to me another scheme to make some extra cash on the side. You would think that the exhorbitant fees they charge for 'processing' the passport would cover that!

Tha passport collection thing also needs to be re-vamped. Why does the applicant have to waste more time going back for collection? Why can't they mail the passports back within the week like how it's done in other countries?

And before you think the kiosk thing for adults is so very efficient, let me tell you that in other countries, adults can just renew their passports by mail and never have to set foot into the immigration dept. or take time off work!

But then again, can we trust the Malaysian Immigration dept. to not 'lose' the sent in documents?

Anonymous said...

aiyah u know that u need photos for passport, i/c for verification and why werent u prepared? It was all your fault lah. Next time bring your wife anywhere you go in case they want to verify if it's your child you bring out.

patrickteoh said...

There are some short-sighted people visiting here who don't understand English.

1. I made it very clear that it was my fault that I encountered some of the problems I did at Immigration today. Especially about going there during school holidays and not knowing that I should have been prepared with photos and copies of IC and etc.

2. They did not say that BOTH parents had to be present. They said ONLY my wife can renew my daughter's passport.

Anonymous said...

Why we still have to make a photo by ourselves? Cant the photo be included in the passport fees? Look at our IC, they do it for us and why can't they do for us especially it is digital and stored in the computer. Anything, Malai Govern can trace.

Anonymous said...

LOL I thought the joker said ANYWHERE you go, not necessarily the immigration dept lor.

Didi said...

I'm sorry uncle pat but who on earth goes to make passport without bringing passport photos? Couldn't that have made it easier? I made my passport at Subang too but it only too me an hour of waiting and another hour for them to produce the passport. Granted that wasn't a school holiday but it helps having every required things ready.

Anonymous said...

they suspect laura NOT looking like you so NOT your daughter lo !!

Anonymous said...

I NEVER own a passport : 1st takut get curi-ed for sale , 2nd takut to go thro all troubles & 3rd takut to sit ship-flying !!
( i support 'curi-curi ...oops sori, cuti-cuti ONE malaysia !)

Anonymous said...

I crawling on floor searching for my 50-sen coin under the bed , biniku
said 'go outside to cari lah so dark cannot see one !'
Pat, lain kali go to the Lioncity to renew can do faster lah !!

Anonymous said...

you are lucky dat building NOT leaking heavy monthly like the parlimen though many many juta sudah
spent to repair & NOW 100-million ringgits lagi mau ...NAH !! @#$%^&*.
( still cannot find my 50-sen coin even under the bright hot sun lah .)

Anonymous said...

you are lucky dat building NOT bocoring heavily like the parlimen leaking NOW though many-many juta sudah spent repairing & repairing &
NOW about 100-juta ringgits lagi mau lah !!

Anonymous said...

It's a mere 10min job at the local post office in Sydney. Sorry, Patrick, but am I glad those days are over for me...........

Anonymous said...

I agree that money shold not be spent on frivolous space adventure project but to upgrade the facilities of government offices that serve the rakyat, and to provide FOC photostat of IC and birth certs.

in said...

I just renewed my passport at Subang Terminal 2 yesterday. It was a totally different experience from yours. I arrived at 2.44pm (according to the parking ticket). Amazingly I found a parking spot right in front of the entrance. Went in to get my forms checked and to get number. (all my documents ready and filled prior). The counter staff gave me a number but told me to try the kiosk instead, if OK can ignore the number she gave. There was about 6 people infront of me and 2 pegawai helping to operate the kiosk. Very fast, when all was done, my receipt showed the time as 3pm. !!!!! Can collect at 5pm....meaning the next day. Haiya.... should have come earlier,

Anonymous said...

HI Pat,
Just a joke to scare you.
When you bring your wife to collect the passport, pls bring original & photostat copy of your marriage certificate....

patrickteoh said...

Some guy asked Who goes to renew passports without having photos? Read the blog post, moron! If you can lah.

Anonymous said...

Aiyoh, no special treatment for celebrity Teoh?

Ngeh Ngeh said...

Rakyat Perak mahu tahu apa sebab sebenar selepas rampasan kuasa BN di Perak pada 6/2/2009, mengikut Laporan Ketua Audit Negara, kini wang bersatu berkanun negeri telah berkurangan sebanyak RM85 juta dari RM774 juta menjadi RM689 juta dalam tempoh 1 tahun.

Tambahan lagi, apa sebab sebenar Zamry perlu membuat 3 bajet defisit dalam tempoh 1 tahun, iaitu pada 28/10/2010 sebanyak lebih kurang RM40 juta belanjawan defisit, 3/8/2010 sebanyak RM80 juta dan kini menjelang persidangan DUN Perak mulai 30/11/2010, dianggarkan sebanyak RM50 juta defisit lagi menjadikan jumlah Defisit Negeri Perak lebih RM160 juta. . . . Apa sudah terjadi? Dimanakah wang rakyat dibelanja? Dimana sistem open tender? Bagaimana usaha banteras rasuah?

Rakyat berhak tahu kisah benar, Zamry perlu kemukakan fakta benar untuk diperiksa oleh rakyat kerana itu wang cukai dari rakyat, untuk rakyat.

liz said...

Someone wrote "Why can't they mail the passports back within the week like how it's done in other countries?"
............ does anyone trust Pos Malaysia???

Anonymous said...

a lot of people do not understand your english. too powderful lahh. that's why they whack u like dat lor. if possible, translate to a local language so that everyone can understand better.

jasgill said...

Once I printed photos from a negative that I had but they were rejected by the imm officer. Reason: same picture as in the previous passport, so cannot pakai.

Adriel D.K said...

I think almost all the government department will take half of the day to complete something. Try go make a police report, it takes maybe 15-1 hour for your turn to make a report (after taking a number). They will not accept english because they only understand Bahasa Malayu (if you write in english slowly lar translate into malay back LOL)

As for passport? well lucky for my the government have spend millions making the biggest office for NRD and Immigration department here in Kota Kinabalu. But yes it has a wide long counters & limited place for you to sit and wait at lease I don't sweat while waiting (They spend a lot on the air cond too hehe) so there are some similarity.

But for me, I took a day off just to make my passport on a normal working day. This was the best choice if you plan to visit any government related department for some personal reason. Why? less working people free to go there in the morning or evening and it might take half a day to complete anything.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow when your wife goes to collect the passport better be early if she is rushing back to work.
Need to collect queue number before they give out the passport (easily another half hour wait). Another ridiculous bureaucratic red tape still bugging the system.
Agree with you that the staff at immigration dept pretty cool bunch but they need to revamp this cooperative side income thingy as with the technology available there is no excuse to carry on with these archaic procedures.

Anonymous said...

Hi Patrick . It seems that you always like to pick on PDRM & Immigration . PDRM is like boring same old story and no one can do anything about !

How about 'venturing further' to Social Welfare Dept. eg. Raykat on the bantuan list can subscribe ASTRO.

Cheers !

USJ busybody

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why the Immigration officers asking wife to bring her children to collect passport.
Do they have own policies or something what to follow 1Malaysia policies?

Cool Tiger

Anonymous said...

Nothing much to say except 'Frigging NUMBNUTS!' You are a bloody saint for being so patient putting up with blatant incompetency THAT long, Pat.

Anonymous said...

Aiya Patrick! That's why I say, the immigrations rules are not made clear to the people-lah! Sometimes, they'll tell you only father can get passports for kids, in your case, they tell you only the mother can do it. But when you ask why - nobody can give you an answer because the officers dunno-lah! But how to tell you that?! This is what happens to countries that don't invest in human resouces.

daddykhong said...


There are tonnes of parent blogs that detail this very intricate procedure down to the smallest detail. Some even provide the links to the relevant pages of the Pejabat Immigresen's website.

I've never heard of the mum needing to be present for a daughter's passport. In my case, it is always the dad who has to be present but we're prepared anyway so both of us are present.

A tip for you. Print the Borang from the website first. With the borang (and the supporting documents complete), you do not have to queue for a form. Just waltz up to the counter and ask for a number.

zewt said...

hmmm... this is new...

when i was young... only my dad can come and get a new passport for me. mom tak boleh...

Lim EH said...

We should go hi-tech. In UAE, govt counters are equipped with digital camera and printer. Just smile at camera and your photo image is uploaded to the system. Pay money and they print out receipt !

Perhaps Jabatan Immigresen should organise a lawatan-sambil-belajar to UAE and then award a contract to supply digital cameras and printers.

One more thing about your comment about the design of counters width-wise. Actually there is a scientific study carried out to prove that by providing the numbering system and the seats, customers can sit and wait in comfort and eliminate the queue.

Only thing is that they did not expect long queues at photo kiosk and xerox machines because they expect most visitors to come prepared with all documents ready!

So my advice to all who read your blog is to find out online what documents are required and come prepared. Trust me - Immigration is actually the fastest govt department.

rakyat binggung said...

aiseh taikoh pat... had a bad day huh? i feel sorry for u lar... how can they treat a first class citizen like u like a second class citizen? dis is very unbecoming lar... de scene at de jabatan immegrasi is like some kind of a kem pertahanan for prisoners of war... if other countries like australia n singapore would haf de chance to see for themselves arr... i think they will laugh their asses off their assholes lar for sure... (or maybe laugh their balls off their hardened sticks)

Anonymous said...

I was there too few days ago...I went there as early as 8am...I saw the crowd and long queue...without thinkin much i ciao terus...byebye bangkok trip :(

Anonymous said...

who is the HEAD of a family , father or mather !? why tell the ibu to collect ? ...... @#$%^&* !!

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans can now renew their passport online and have their passports delivered to them without having to leave their home.

Can Myeg do that?

Anonymous said...

Try renewing M'sia passport at the High Comm in S'pore. It would be a three day event. One day to get a queue number for ANOTHER day to submit the passport and ANOTHER day to collect the passport..

When I was still in Johor, dealing with any gov't department, e.g. JPJ, PDRM or Immigresen, evokes only negative sentiments.

Hopefully this has changed.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

yes, FATHERS , put your food ...OOPS, foot down as HEADS of your families !!

IF Eve had NOT eaten the forbidden fruit of knowledge 1st & passed to her dumb mate Adam ... Pat,you could have collected the passport for your daughter !!

Anonymous said...

after showing the bone-specialist the x-ray film of my knee :
dr, can my knee heel ?
dun know !
dr, will my knee worsen ?
dun know !
dr, can ...?
dun know !
dr, very pain lah ....!
ok, give you pain-killer .
dr, I .....!
pls come back next week .

#$%^&* !

Anonymous said...

Was in SSM couple of months ago. Same shit, same shitty service, welcome to malaysieeaaaaahhh.

Anonymous said...

There are some ppl who are saying that they purposely reject yr photos not taken @ the cooperative shop. They want you to take yr photos from them. One way to increase their coffer. Not sure if it is true.

Anonymous said...

Bro, even if you bring photos high chances are for them to be rejected and you'll end up using the co-op facility. Believe me you.


Anonymous said...

I think soon they need jingles on TV to impress us of their 'service'.

Naza Caunter said...

Look at the unimpressive counter service people in government offices. if one is used to efficient and pleasant service in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, USA…then dealing with Malaysian officials is a pain.

Sure, there is some improvement here and there but recently I went to JPJ office in Wangsa Maju and the attitude of the front desk personnel indicated that BTN had done their jobs very well. a racial composition that reflect the actual mix of the country will surely improve the situaion. While UMNO talk about 30% bumi shareholding, why not talk about 30% non-bumi representation in all public service?