Singaporean faces passport issue at Malaysian checkpoint

Singaporean Muhammad Fauzi claims that a Malaysian immigration officer tore his passport. Johor's immigration department said that investigations have been opened against the officer.
Singaporean Muhammad Fauzi claims that a Malaysian immigration officer tore his passport. Johor's immigration department said that investigations have been opened against the officer.PHOTOS: MUHAMMAD FAUZI AND SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - After he got married in February last year, it has been his daily routine to ride his motorcycle from his home in Johor, where he lives with his wife and in-laws, to work in Singapore, and back.

The Singaporean man, who wanted to be known only as Muhammad Fauzi, 26, would always cross the border via the Second Link.

He never had issues with his passport, until last week.

Going through the Malaysian checkpoint on his way home at about 11.30pm on Sept 24, the performance auditor was left shocked by the actions of an immigration officer.

Mr Fauzi claimed the officer tore his passport and then solicited a bribe.

Mr Fauzi told The New Paper on Thursday (Oct 4) that he had no issues when clearing Singaporean customs that night.

However, at the Sultan Abu Bakar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Complex, an immigration officer questioned him extensively.

Mr Fauzi said: "While he was questioning me, I saw his palm moving the bio-metric page clockwise... Then he told me that I had to make a U-turn back to Singapore because my passport was torn."

Mr Fauzi said he asked to see a supervisor but was instead asked to park his motorcycle and to follow the officer.

That was when the officer hinted he wanted a bribe, Mr Fauzi alleged.

He added: "The officer told me he could help me go into Malaysia, but I had to 'help him' also."

On hearing that, Mr Fauzi asked for his passport back and returned to Singapore, where he spoke to an officer from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) who advised him to make a police report.

He did that, and also wrote about his experience on Facebook last week.

Three others have messaged him about similar encounters, Mr Fauzi said.

In response to Mr Fauzi's allegations, the Jabatan Imigresen Malaysia Johor (JIM Johor, Johor's immigration department) said in a statement on Facebook that investigations have been opened against the officer accused of misconduct.

The statement in Malay said the department took a serious view of the case and firm action would be taken if the allegations were proven true.

When contacted by TNP, ICA said a torn passport would be considered invalid and would need to be replaced.

Mr Fauzi said he stayed with his parents for two nights while he waited for ICA to replace his passport, for which he had to pay $80.

He said he met senior personnel from JIM Johor on Sept 26, facilitated by the ICA, but had so far not heard back from them.

DO NOT BE AFRAID

For those faced with a similar situation, Mr Fauzi had this advice: "Do not be afraid. Please look for any officials nearby to lodge a complaint and police report. Cases such as this cannot be resolved if they go unreported."

Singaporeans overseas in need of consular assistance can contact the 24-hour Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Duty Office (+65-63798800/8855) and refer to MFA's website or its consular Twitter page @MFAsgConsular for more information.