Johor chief denies checkpoint autogate upgrading is move to hinder returning voters from Singapore

A report on social media had accused Umno of suspending the use of the autogates at the CIQ to prevent voters in Singapore from returning to vote. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

JOHOR BARU - The Johor state government wants to make it easy to travel between Malaysia and Singapore and any claim that Umno was behind a move to disable the autogates for passport clearance at the Johor Baru checkpoint is false, said Chief Minister Onn Hafiz Ghazi.

Datuk Onn Hafiz had been asked to comment on a report in social media, accusing Umno of using dirty tactics such as suspending the use of autogates at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex to prevent voters in Singapore from returning home for the coming national polls in Malaysia.

The report claimed that, due to the suspension of the autogates, there would be longer queues at the CIQ as manual passport clearance required more time.

The Johor chief minister said the government would never want to prevent the movement of people between the two countries, rubbishing talk that Malaysians in Singapore were being deterred from coming home to vote while the machines were upgraded.

“In fact, we want people to have an easy mode of travelling,” he said.

Another state assemblyman clarified that the upgrading work was actually to ease movement of thousands of daily commuters.

“The work started in May this year and will be completed by February next year. The upgrading work will see the number of autogates being increased,” explained state exco leader Mohamad Fazli Mohamed Salleh.

Mr Onn Hafiz explained that when he first took office, there were 1,200 pending work orders at the CIQ complex.

“I have personally visited the complex a few times. Now, the work orders have been reduced to about 100,” he said, adding that as the CIQ was a federal project, the funding was channelled to the Home Ministry.

He added that during one of his visits, he was informed of four autogates not functioning.

Mr Onn Hafiz was hopeful that more funds would be allocated to improve the CIQ, one of the busiest checkpoints in Asia.

Mr Fazli, the state works, transportation and infrastructure committee chairman, said the upgrading work had nothing to do with the elections to be held on Nov 19.

The upgrading, he said, would also be done for the car counters at the CIQ. Work was being carried out now because there was a lack of workers during the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said some of the systems installed at the CIQ had to be imported from countries which were still under lockdown then.

Mr Fazli stressed that there were still 18 counters open for pedestrians crossing the Causeway, including a designated counter for senior citizens, pregnant women, the physically disabled and those who held Malaysian permanent resident status. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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