Friday, July 10, 2009

Malaysian Immigration Experiences

Well, I've had some interesting if contrasting experiences in two different Immigration complexes within the last week.

Firstly, I was moving through the new CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) Complex in Johor Bahru last Friday on my way back from Singapore. Receiving only two days was a kick in the teeth, and the manner in which it was done was extremely rude and highly distasteful. After 6 hours on a bus to Singapore and with the prospect of another 6 hours back to Kuantan, a two-day chop was not at all pleasant, leaving a bad taste in the mouth and an evil thought in the mind.

Anyway, I made my way to the Kuantan Immigration Complex the following Monday, a day late, it then being the 6th July, so technically I had overstayed by a day. I had been preparing myself to explain to them what had happened and hope that they would be lenient. I fasted and prayed about it. When I arrived, a young Muslim woman neatly dressed with an accompanying 'tudung' (head cover) addressed me and took my passport while I filled out an extension form. Submitting the form I sat down and waited to be called up, sure that I would be asked why I've overstayed and resultingly be given a warning or something worse. As it is, that young officer was also surprised that I had only been given two days at the CIQ and explained that she would be giving me a 3-month chop free of charge. "This is what you deserve," she later told me.

How refreshing! What great service I encountered that day at the Kuantan Immigration Complex! And what a complete contrast to my earlier experience at the CIQ. I'm extremely thankful for the Immigration officers here in Kuantan, and their understanding of my situation. This is the sort of service that will take Malaysia forward and endear foreigners to its shores.

I'm learning that when something bad happens, it's generally a sign that God has something glorious in store for you if you endure well.

And that wasn't the end of this little episode of mine.

I had made a complaint on the internet to the Malaysian Government website about my experience at the CIQ in Johor Bahru. I received an email on Tuesday 7th July informing me that my complaint was being investigated. Then on Wednesday, the Kuantan Immigration called me in for an interview concerning my complaint. So on Thursday I arrived and was asked various questions about the nature of my complaint by that same Muslim woman who had been so generous earlier in the week. Once again, the service I received was excellent, and I now have the opportunity to gain a 6-month visa which she introduced to me after the interview.

So things went from awful to awesome during this last week. Life is a roller-coaster wherever you are, but mine has just done a loop-the-loop and I feel re-invigorated and satisfied once more.

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