JOHOR BARU - Taking a "shortcut" that bypasses the Johor Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex to enter Singapore has landed 37 people in trouble with the Malaysian authorities.
They were detained while walking along railway lines beside the Causeway early yesterday, Johor Immigration Department director Rohaizi Ibrahim said. Those detained included 35 Malaysians and one Singaporean.
"Most of the Malaysians are work-permit holders in Singapore who choose to bypass the CIQ to avoid the early-morning jam at the Johor CIQ each day," Mr Rohaizi said. He added that it was a serious offence to exit the country illegally, even though those detained held legal Singapore work permits.
Since the Malaysian passport is electronic and does not need to be stamped, Singapore immigration officers are not alerted if the passport holder bypasses the Johor CIQ. The databases of the Malaysian and Singaporean immigration authorities are not linked.
Mr Rohaizi warned that offenders face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to RM10,000 (S$3,600), or both.
The Star reported last week that people, especially those trying to avoid the morning traffic jam, have been using the 300m bypass route for some time.
The paper quoted a man in his 20s as saying that it sometimes takes 45 minutes to clear immigration at the Johor CIQ and then take the bus into Singapore. The shortcut means it is only a 15- or 20-minute walk to the Singapore CIQ after leaving the Johor side, he added. "A lot of people use this way - it's faster," he said.
A KTM official was quoted as saying that security at the railway lines was being tightened after the rail operator learnt that people were trespassing there.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK