Going Back to Over 40 Years Ago?!

Woes of a common man to renew a basic fundamental right – passports

Long beeline queues for passport renewal at the KDN Setia Tropika this morning (photo by Edey Suresh)

In the day and age of technology and especially since the COVID-19 pandemic hit us over two years ago – haven’t we still learned anything about being up the ladder on fundamental rights such as renewing our passports. Passports are our second most crucial identification document after our national identity cards, yet many citizens off late have been subjected to long queues that used to exist back in the day at the Wisma Persekutuan downtown.

Beeline queues of people, pregnant women and some with irritable crying babies and children are in this queue despite having an online appointment to renew their passports at the UTC inside Galleria Kotaraya or the Setia Tropika branch. Netizens demand to know what is the use of booking a slot at the Sistem Temujanji Online 2.0 or via https://imigresen-online.imi.gov.my/eservices/myPasport which either has no available dates or gives you a date for over a month later.

Screenshot of STO 2.0 that no longer has the click-down options to select the services

Citizens have been following the rules by having the online slot on hand they obtained over a month ago since walk-ins are not allowed (only a few exceptions apply), diligently sought permission from work to reach the Immigration department and show up at the given time as per the online appointment for the renewal of their passport only to discover that they have to stand in long queues under the hot sun for a manual token that quickly runs out! Why create version 2.0 and so on when the department cannot handle the volume?

An immigration officer gives out the tokens and when she ran out of the tokens (it was 300 for this morning) she says “minta maaf semua orang” (sorry everyone) or says that now you can walk in, didn’t you read?! No one was aware of this new walk-in situation! Some people shared with The Iskandarian that they had no idea and joined in a queue repeatedly for two days and was turned away when the numbers ran out.

If the online appointment system is no longer in place, make it known to the public via the social media so that people are well informed of it and make necessary arrangements to be there and be prepared to stand in long queues that sadly existed aeons ago when I was a sleepy child standing in the queue with my parents in the wee hours of the morning so I could have access to my basic right – the freedom of movement.

Meanwhile, the Menteri Besar of Johor Datuk Onn Hafiz had spoken to the Director of the Malaysian Immigration Department (JIM) Johor, Tuan Baharuddin Tahir following his visit to the Home Ministry Office (KDN) in Setia Tropika.

Among the initial solution measures to avoid crowds and long queues are as follows:-

  1. The process of taking queue numbers will be simplified and improved.
  2. A more comfortable waiting area will be provided.
  3. UTC Kota Raya and UTC Pasir Gudang, will operate 7 days a week, from 8.00 am to 10.00 pm.
  4. Other office operations will continue to be extended throughout Johor, until 10 pm. The office operation every Saturday is between 8.00 am and 12.30 pm.

The Director of Immigration was quoted saying in an interview with JOHORfm that in Johor, the department releases at least 1800 passports per day (on average) or about 34,000 passports in total in April compared to March which was only about 1000 a day…”We expect it to continue to increase (in numbers) in the coming months agreeing with the fact it was due to the re-opening of the borders”.

The immigration was not available to speak to The Iskandarian at this juncture.