Syndicates are taking advantage of the long queues snaking outside Immigration Departments for submission of foreign worker documents, to sell counter numbers.
StarMetro’s investigation reveals that it can take up to 39 hours before a queue number is obtained from the Immigration Department counters at Shah Alam and Putrajaya for matters related to foreign workers.
The congestion has led to a thriving black market business to sell numbers to those unwilling to queue up.
While in most cases the official queue numbers could be obtained in 15 hours, some employers claim that the process could even stretch up to three days during peak periods.
Checks revealed that the process of obtaining the number starts as far ahead as 5pm the day before, although the numbers are only given out when the counters open at 8am.
In Shah Alam, the “booking” begins at a bus stop located at Persiaran Tasik opposite Kompleks PKNS in Shah Alam where the Selangor Immigration Department is located.
The queue starts at the spot where an employer places a folder with the name of his company and No.1 on the outside. More employers or their representatives join the queue by lining up their folders. Most will insert the folders into a plastic sheet so that the documents will not get wet in the rain.
By 7pm, the number of folders would have reached 50, alongside a large number of people milling around the bus stop.
At this point, one or two employers would transfer the folders to the pavement outside Kompleks PKNS.
The folders will be placed along the pavement in a long row according to their numbers.
Newcomers will join the queue by placing their folders. This goes on through the night, with people hanging around the pavement waiting for the Immigration Department to open.
However, some employers would leave and return the next day.
At about 5am, a human chain will start to build with some 200 people waiting in the queue. It starts from the main entrance of the complex. They are only allowed to go to the second floor of the Immigration Department at 7.30am when the office opens.
However, StarMetro investigations revealed that the number offered by the counter do not tally with the ones marked on the folders.
The day’s first 30 numbers for the foreign workers’ counters are usually taken up by the syndicate.
It is learnt that touts sell them to employers who do not wish to wait in the queue for hours.
The first 10 numbers are allegedly sold for RM100 each and the subsequent 20 numbers for RM50 each. During peak seasons, the rates go up.
Syndicate members will appear outside the PKNS Kompleks around 9pm and dictate the order of numbers.
It is learned that the fees have already been collected a day earlier from customers who are required to meet them at about 5am the next day.
The syndicate will then place the bags of their customers in front of others waiting in the queue.
At 7am, the syndicate member will get everyone to line up in a row before ushering them to the Immigration office on the second floor of the complex
Checks also revealed that a similar situation prevails at the department’s office in Putrajaya where employers also start to queue up outside the building from as early as 9pm the night before.
Employers were spotted sitting on the five-foot way around the Immigration Department headquarters in Putrajaya.
Chirara Kannan of Jan-berry Sdn Bhd said the process was unacceptable and employers had been suffering for the past three years.
He said the lack of numbers given out to meet the huge demand had led to the situation.
“Employers and their representatives have been putting up with this situation for too long.
“There is no certainty that one will be able to get a number even if you queue up at 5am,’’ said Chirara, who came to process the check-out memo for his foreign workers.
Chirara said the touts dictated the order of the queue.
“I was the first to place my folder at the bus stop but the touts who appeared at the platform had altered my number to 47,” he said
Sabudin Saad who is a director of a manufacturing company, said he waited from 5pm the previous day to obtain a queue number for submission of check-out memo for his foreign workers.
“After waiting for 18 hours, I was told that there were no more numbers available and I had no choice but to return today.
“I waited in the queue since 4pm yesterday before I got my number at 8.30am this morning,’’ he said,
Sabudin said he was shocked that the counter gave him No 41 although he was the 17th person in the queue.
He said some employers sought the assistance of touts to get an earlier number from those who stood in line.
K. Appasamay of Sani Emas Sdn Bhd said he had been waiting at the Putrajaya office since 4am to get his number.
He said the practice of queuing up a day earlier had been going on for years and it was time the department introduced a proper system to overcome the problem.
“Employers should not be subjected to this sort of treatment,’’ he said.