KUALA LUMPUR: Those turning up at the Immigration Department headquarters were happy to find all the counters opened and ready to receive passport applications.
A check at the department in Pusat Bandar Damansara at 3pm yesterday revealed that officers from the training department were manning the counters in place of colleagues who were still on leave and the number waiting to be served was manageable.
Asked how long they had been waiting, many applicants said they got their numbers in the morning, but were instructed at 10.45am to return after lunch if the number was higher than 1201.
“They told us to come back at 2.45pm, which is a good thing because things can still be done in between,” said housewife Nasrul Azira Overmeyer.
Two weeks ago, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made a surprise visit to the department and instructed its officers to find ways to shorten the long wait at the counters.
On Thursday, Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Aseh Che Mat made another spot check and was furious to see a large crowd and only five counters opened. He then ordered all counters to be opened so that applications could be processed quickly.
While pleased that the department was making an effort to improve services, some felt more could be done to speed things up.
Liaison officer Lee Sze Wan, who had also taken a number in the morning, said his application was processed within half an hour after he got back in the afternoon.
However, he felt there should not be a separate counter for payment.
“Why can’t the officer who handled my case receive payment? I had to wait about 15 minutes just to pay. You do a lot of waiting around here.”
Lee, who was there to renew his passport, also suggested that there should be separate counters to handle renewals and applications for new passports.
Mustapah Aris, whose wife was renewing her passport, agreed with Lee.
“I am sure that all the information is already in the database. I feel it’s unnecessary to take three working days to process a renewal.
“If they say come back after one working day, I’ll say that’s efficient,” he said.
Though he was glad to be told to return at 2.45pm, Mustapah, who was there at 8.30am, felt the staff handing out numbers should be able to gauge how many people could be served within a certain time.