The recent story about the detainment of 2 unfortunate Singaporean ladies at the Johor Bahru customs last week came as a shock to many that such things still happen in 2011 and as a Malaysian myself, I am deeply embarassed and disgusted that the enforcement officers of my country have displayed an utter lack of professionalism in this matter.

picture by okaboo.com

While many have probably read the story and have had time to digest it, I would like to offer up my thoughts on the whole case from a ‘solutions’ point of view and of how the case could’ve been handled in a dignified and more professional manner.

Firstly, I believe the error lay in the officers not taking a step back and asking the right questions.

If these 2 ladies had allegedly entered Malaysia illegally without having their passports stamped, then the officers in charge should have

1. verified their passports with their Singapore counterparts to ensure that they were holding valid travel documents

2. checked their ‘Touch n Go’ toll cards which the women claimed they had scanned at the unmanned booth to see what time they had entered before they decided to U-turn back to immigration to get their passports stamped

3. find out where the joker that was supposed to be manning the booth was in the first place. Was he called away to the restroom and if he was why didn’t he call in a replacement or temporarily shut down his booth? Was he physically unable to continue with his duties and if so, again why wasn’t the necessary shut down procedures carried out? Was he slacking off somewhere else with his mates? To this, no one has an answer on when this was, if not, the most important question to ask because it was the reason why the ladies were confused in the first place and didn’t know what else to do.

4. ask the ladies why they didn’t go to another booth to get their passports stamped if they were confused or unsure about the checkpoint’s new biometric system.

These were and should be the first steps of protocol when detaining suspected illegal immigrants instead of  them being put through unnecessary, shameful, barbaric, inhumane detention practises requiring the literal stripping of a person’s dignity.

Innocent until proven guilty remember?

Unfortunately, the officers at the JB Immigration chose to do otherwise, resulting in me thinking that this whole incident carries with it an even uglier truth; that this was purely a vengeful, anti-Chinese Singaporean, hate tactic akin to those old Klu Klux Klan lynching mobs of 1800s America.

I have no doubt that this was Malaysian Immigration’s very own lynch fest.

I apologise if this point is sensitive to some, but it does seem that way from the way the story has panned out.

Some things just don’t sit right with me, for example, how quick the officers were  to conclude that these ladies were flouting the law and subsequently, how badly they were interrogated and punished. It sure feels like these officers just couldn’t wait to humiliate them.

I’m also disturbed by why these women had to be brought to a holding cell in the town of Pontian, which is an hour’s drive away from the main city, to be detained. Was it really necessary to do that given these ladies had proper travel documents to begin with?

So OK – even if these 2 were suspected of illegally entering Malaysia for dubious activities eg transporting drugs from Malaysia to Singapore, did the Malaysian immigration officials think their counterparts in Singapore weren’t alert anough to capture them on arrival at the border?

Surely not!  That would be idiotically presumptious at best, given Singapore’s impressive track record in successful drug, cigarette and alcohol busting at the borders.

But I forget, these are dense Malaysian officials who believe they know it all, so yea, perhaps they did think that after all. 🙂

This also kinda brings me to my next question: How much authority does a uniformed officer have over a regular citizen in that space of time between when they are deemed innocent and later, proven guilty/not guilty here in Malaysia?

Helluva lot, I imagine, if this case is anything to go by and here’s where it gets as scary as a badly made Halloween candy – If such power is given to a uniformed officer to wield, how sure can we be that this person is objective and unbiased enough to do his/her job effectively without violating human rights?

Are these officers subject to stringent psychological tests and analyses? Are their backgrounds thoroughly checked to ensure that they are of stable upbringing and of sound mind? Do they come with any emotional baggage? Are they trained in an objective environment where their superiors also display outstanding or impressive work ethics and/or professional dignity?

In many developed countries perhapsthe answers to all those questions may be a ‘Yes’ but in good ole lawless Malaysia and other similar rogue nations, it is highly questionable.

We still can’t seem to be able to recruit people of reasonable intelligence and objectivity to be in our enforcement divisions because the jobs don’t pay and when the jobs don’t pay, corruption seeps in; a dirty practise Malaysians are aware of  when it has to do with anything that comes with a ‘Kerajaan Malaysia’ (Government of Malaysia) label.

So now ‘Kerajaan Malaysia’ will have a lot of damage control to do in the next few weeks as this story gets tweeted and facebooked in Singapore and probably around the world but given the circumstances, that will probably be the least of their problems as the wheels of justice are set to go into full ‘suing’ motion by the victims of this horrible incident.

Then, my friends, we’ll see who’ll be wishing they did squats or a duck-walk of shame across the Causeway and back.

Good luck to these ladies and I hope they get the justice they deserve.


About thejellyfarm

In real life, I am a television writer and producer...er no...scratch...a television director....noo, scratch....a media loser.....wait, that doesn't sound quite insulting enough....... OK, ahem. In real life, I'm an idiot box expert with a penchant for the creative. In short, I'm a loser with no focus or direction in life. I just go where the creative flow takes me. Mostly it takes me to clogged up drains and stinky oceans but it's going.......going.....somewhere. And this blog is an expression of that mindblowing roadblock. Creative frustration is a great motivator and here is a result of that.

Posted on June 15, 2011, in Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Dear Friend:

    According to Yahoo Report, some official statement & some officers said the following:

    “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”.

    “other representatives from within the Immigration Department headquarters in Kuala Lumpur that Yahoo! Singapore spoke 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.”

    The two ladies made a u turn immediately to get their passports stamped, ok, if we give them benefit of doubt, and believe that they did immediately made a u turn, isn’t it very obvious they did not have any ulterior motive but simply wanted to have supper?

    Instead of looking into the matter and made sensible announcements and statements, the spokesperson threw in something that not only did not help to reduce the tension, but in actual fact, enraged more netizens…

    Malaysia is a beautiful country and I have so many beautiful friends from Malaysia.. It really saddened me that such incident happened – the extremists started to boycott Malaysia, Malaysians, and perhaps Malayia products next????

    Hope justice can be done…

    The two ladies should also be more alert. Nobody manning the station, perhaps they could just be a little bit patient and wait for assistance (if waiting at the lane is not prohibited)

    Anyway, a good lesson for everyone!

    • Miss Dawn my friend,
      I’m trying to be objective about this and that’s why I offered up solutions in my article. I also had a lot of questions that if I was part of the investigation team I would wanna be asking given that I’m realllllly disturbed about how the Immigrations Authorities so quickly handed these ladies to a detention squad without verifying any of the ladies’ claims.

      Malaysia is a beautiful country with lots of beautiful people, sights and sounds and it is sad to see all this beauty tarnished in the hands of a few in the enforcement divisions out on their own hate vendetta.
      We mustn’t live in denial, like some people. Our hearts and minds and eyes and ears must be open and we must be so aware to see this BS that is thrown our way.

      Thanks for being this aware. XX

  2. I think calling the Malaysian immigration a “Ku Klux Klan lynching mob” is over the top and completely unnecessary. While what the women went through was utterly disgraceful, in no way is it comparable to the excesses of the KKK. Please have some perspective.

  3. “Some things just don’t sit right with me, for example, how quick the officers were to conclude that these ladies were flouting the law and subsequently, how badly they were interrogated and punished. It sure feels like these officers just couldn’t wait to humiliate them.”

    This itself, and the women calling the newspapers to make an issue out of it, makes me think that these women probably weren’t very nice to the officers to incur such overkill.

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  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 16 Jun 2011 « The Singapore Daily

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