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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Unpleasant Johor Experience

"2,000RM fine for 2 photos", the security guard at the Malaysia customs bus-bay told the three of us.

It was last Hari Raya Haji (26 Oct 2012), when Girlfriend Peiyi's family of 8 and myself decided to head out for a day's trip of fun at our neighbouring country, which is none other than Johor, Malaysia. But what was supposed to be exciting and something to look forward to, turned out to be a nasty, unpleasant experience.

We alighted at the bus-bay at the Malaysia customs at approximately 1100hrs, and while waiting for the rest of the family who got seperated at Woodlands Checkpoint, my girlfriend's mother took two pictures of girlfriend and myself with Baby Mitchelle. And stating the pure obvious, it was done out of no harm. Before I carry on, there are NO signage stating that photography or videography is prohibited in the bus-bay. Zero. None at all. Don't tell me I am wrong, because I looked around. Signages baring important notices, offenses and limitations should be obvious, even if there is, it should not be hidden at some crevice on the wall.

One security guard (Guard A) walked towards us and interogated us, with the suspicion that we were terrorists, on why we were taking photographs. Go google "malaysia customs", I confirmed that it will garner thousands and millions of images. I hate to mention it, but he was rankless. We didn't know, we explained to them. They requested for girlfriend's mother's passport, browsed through a few pages and refused to return it. After which he made a phone call to his "officer", another arrogant-looking rankless guard (Guard B) who wears a traffic-police vest and one who claims that he is the head in-charge here. Do I suppose now that they put rankless personnel in-charge of "high security places"?

Guard B then told us to delete the images, or else we will be charged for failing to comply with orders on top of the 2,000RM fine (1,000RM for one photograph). I requested to talk to his head, show him the pictures we took and delete his presence, but he insisted he is in-charged, I mean is there no one higher rank in the chain-of-command than this rankless traffic police? He said that we were disrespecting him and spoke to Guard A in some gibberish malay, which is sadly some language the three of us did not understand. They hinted that we will be brought to the police station and might lead to detention. After some dramatic words exchange, we decided to delete the photographs (thinking of it, why did we do that, when it was evidence we could show). The rest of the family finally arrived and somehow, girlfriend's brother-in-law managed to settle the case. Bribe maybe?

I am sure that my case was not the first, and it will not be the last. It is sad to say that corruption, regardless of severity is everywhere. After the drama, I asked one of the higher ranking officers at the customs and told me that there is no such thing as fine. And despite telling her about our case, she seemed to show the "heck-care" attitute, is this because that this kind of issues happened too frequently? It is obvious that at their management level, it can be better well-managed, but till to what extend?

The whole experience was definitely unpleasant and has made a tainted impression of Malaysia on me. Now, I will think twice before even stepping into Malaysia. It is ironic that Malaysia wants more foreigners to visit their country when they do not enforce a certain standard to the people.

P.S. This post is written with no intentions of flaming the country nor the people. Just expressing my point of view on this particular experience.