by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA
SINGAPORE – “It is good that they have officers to assist at the main gate,” said a senior citizen who accompanied her husband to collect his renewed passport at the Malaysian High Commission Complex (STM), here, today.
The elderly couple was met by Bernama while observing officers from the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM) managing a long queue outside the STM complex this morning.
Earlier, the couple was allowed to come into the JIM office which is housed in the complex, without queueing.
However, they were asked to come back because the passport was not ready yet.
“We were informed that the passport is being printed in Malaysia,” said the wife who wanted to be known as Madam Lee while showing a document asking her husband to come to the JIM office on Feb 16.
Before leaving on a motorcycle, the Singapore permanent resident couple said they would be notified via email once the passport is ready to be collected.
Last week, several Malaysians in Singapore took on social media showing the congestion and long queues for passport renewal outside the STM complex.
It was observed today that the situation was under control with two JIM officers assisted by several security officers doing document screening at the main gate before allowing them to proceed with related matters inside the complex.
Around 7.30 am, Malaysians were seen to have formed a line of about 350 metres with each ensuring physical distancing starting at Holt Road leading to the main gate of the complex.
It was also observed that some senior citizens and couples who brought children and babies were given priority and did not have to queue. The line eventually shortened around 9.15 am.
In his response on March 19, Malaysian Immigration director-general, Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said system disruptions and a sharp rise in applications had led to the congestion at the JIM office in Singapore.
He said the congestion was also due to walk-in applicants who did not make appointments through the Online Appointment System (STO) as well as the COVID-19-induced border closure, which made it difficult for Malaysians to renew their passports in Johor Bahru or at other branches of the department.
Khairul Dzaimee said JIM was also waiting for approval from the Singapore Foreign Ministry to allow staff of Datasonic Bhd to enter the country to carry out repair work.
He advised Malaysians in Singapore to renew their passports online, and applications will be processed and printed within four to five weeks.
Priority in renewing passports was given to Malaysians who needed to extend their work permits in the near future, he said.
According to him, normally, the JIM office in Singapore is able to process 100 passport renewal applications a day but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the applications have increased to 350 a day.
Last week, online renewal applications increased from 200 to 450 per day, with most of the applicants turning up without making an appointment through the STO.