Friday 9 November 2012
Malaysia - 0. Brunei - 2.
The above marks the beginning of our plight and long endurance at the Visa Section of Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia. Here are the gruesome details.
9.35 We left the house in a taxi to get to Jabatan Imigresen because I'm sick to the eyeballs of driving in Kuala Lumpur.
10.20 We arrived at Kompleks KDN Jalan Duta and joined the queue for the renewal-of-visa form.
10.51 We were given the form and the allocated number.
11.30 The Computer Screen registered our number, and we submitted the application form, passport and relevant documents to Counter 12. So far, so good - it looked very promising.
12.30 I saw our number again on the screen and proceeded to Counter 12 as noted. I was wondering why 12 and not Counter 9 which should have been the next stage. At Counter 12 I was told off for being at the wrong place and told to go to Counter 9 for payment. I showed my number slip, the cashier asked for $105 and gave me the receipt. I was just about to go when another applicant asked to look at my receipt. It was meant for him! And the 'quick-thinking' cashier told him to refund me my $105. No apology, not even an indication of a shadow of shame and regret for such sloppy carelessness.
I was perplexed. Was this some kind of manic musical chairs? I asked very nicely, what happened to my application. In a brusque manner she told me to sit down and wait. I was not happy with being shoved from pillar to post. I went back to Counter 12 and asked for some explanation. He looked at me like I was an insect and said very rudely, " I am dealing with Number 81xx and not yours." He was effectively telling me to go away. I retorted, "Then why was my number called?"
It took some doing for the spouse to get me to cool down. We started waiting again Then 2 hours later, at
2.30 we were directed to the venerable Counter 9 to make the payment. We heaved a sigh of relief and knew that the Passport and Visa would be in our hands in an hour or so later. Came 3 o'clock, then 4 o'clock - our eyes which were constantly looking at the Computer screen could not find our number. Later numbers than ours were flashing by but not ours.
At 4.30, in his most diplomatic manner, the spouse spoke to an officer who was just passing and asked. "Is there any problem with my application for my 3-days visa? This is my number." The officer started searching from one table to another and then to the office at the rear. Still nothing. Then he saw a basket in an alcove tucked away near Counter 7- the counter for Penyerahan. In the basket there were about a dozen passports ready for distribution to their rightful owners and the spouse's was in that pile. Iain asked "Mengapa passport saya di letak di situ?" The officer said these were passports of those who did not come forward when their number was called. I was seething by now and under my breath I was uttering "Liar, liar liar". Our two pairs of eyes had been glued to the Computer screen since half past two!!! I was about to say just that to the officer but Iain pulled me away. "Let's go home. We've got the visa and passport." The receipt in the spouse's passport registered 3.04 when the visa was given clearance!
By the time we left the building, the car park was almost empty. Of course we could not flag a taxi because the place was shutting down. In desperation we called for help from our lovely neighbour Zarinah. She managed to get us a taxi and we, especially Iain, hobbled down the slope to get to the main road to wait for Pak Yusof's taxi. We did not get home until nearly 6pm.
Hence this posting. It was not too long ago when this Government Department committed the same kind of gross inefficiency and neglect.
I reckon the slogan of "Rakyat di Dahulukan" does not apply in this part of Jabatan Imigresen because the 'clients' are all foreigners. They are looked down upon because they are here as recipients of the Immigration Officers' grace and favour. Most or almost all of the time, these foreigners are treated like second class humans, and sometimes spoken to as if they are dogs. And I am not exaggerating! These Immigration Napoleons know they are the 'durians' and can behave as nastily as they like to these vulnerable and hapless 'mentimun'.
As a Malay and Muslim, I cannot help but wonder how do these Government Officers sleep at night? Muslims are very scrupulous about "halal' and 'haram' in their food and attire, about dosa and pahala in their behaviour. Do they apply such strictures to the way they work or do not work to deserve their 'rezeki' and the treatment of their fellow human beings? I have seen kaffir Immigration Officers in Singapore and Britain and New Zealand and India who in most cases harbour a similar attitude towards foreigners, but they do not treat such people with such rudeness, disdain and contempt. Budi bahasa and sopan santun are dished out only to foreigners in hotels and shopping centres, not to those applying and renewing their Visa in Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia.
For the first time since April this year, the spouse- for a span of 8 hours- was not able to rest horizontally. All of yesterday he found himself sitting, walking and standing to maintain circulation and keep the pain of the three slipped discs at bay.
There was a young Malay couple sitting in the waiting room near us. I noticed her husband had a walking stick with a white band at the top. Twice she offered her seat to Iain but he gently refused because too much sitting on such a low seat was very uncomfortable. When the time came and he felt like sitting, this kind lass moved closer to Monil, her husband so that all 4 of us could squeeze into three seats. At that time, until about 4.30, that room was packed with people, like sardines in a Made-in-Malaysia can.
We got talking. Lo and behold, they were from Brunei where I spent 7 working years. This was the country that gave me a job when I could not bear working in Singapore anymore. We talked about Gadong STPRI, SOAS College, the market in the centre of BSB that had now been moved to Gadong, of Sungai Kianggeh and Tutong and Berakas beach, of Lamunin, Ang's Hotel. The young man Monil was undergoing treatment at Prince Court and they had to do this visa renewal every month. Although their number was much later than ours they got their passports before Iain got his.
When they were about to leave, the young lass salam and cium my hand. Before that Monil invited us to visit Brunei and to stay at their house. As my mother would put it, "sejuk hati' to be able to meet this lovely couple. They are both Malay-Muslims like the Immigration Officers but they are Melayu Brunei.
That explains the title of my posting.
My students at Maktab Perguruan Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Gadong would perform this song for Concerts at the College. The most striking line in the lyrics: Jangan tak Sopan, Orang Ramai akan Melihat.