JOHOR BARU: As the Nov 1 deadline when Singapore stops accepting Malaysian restricted passports draws near, thousands of people have been flooding Immigration Department offices in Johor to apply for international passports.
State Immigration deputy-director Mohamed Nasir Osman said that since Thursday, when the department reopened after the Hari Raya holidays, the number of applications for international passports had gone up by 80%.
He said there were usually 500 to 600 applications daily.
On Thursday, he said the department received some 1,069 applicants, and yesterday 887 applications.
BIGGER CROWD: Hundreds of people waiting at the Immigration Complex in Johor Baru on Friday.The deadline for the restricted passport is Nov 1.
“We believe that most restricted passport holders have already renewed their passports,” Mohamed Nasir said when contacted.
Singapore decided to extend the deadline for restricted passports from July 1 to Nov 1 following a meeting between Malaysian Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Radzi Sheikh Ahmad and his Singaporean counterpart Wong Kan Seng in June.
They also agreed that Malaysian international passports belonging to those who commute daily to the republic for work or studies would not be stamped.
The commuters would only need to present their passports together with their Immigration Automated Clearance System (IACS) card issued by the Singapore authorities at checkpoints.
Some 100,000 Malaysians commute daily to the republic.
Mohamed Nasir said the department was trying to tally the number of restricted passport holders who had applied for international passports.
He said most applications were in Johor Baru and others in Batu Pahat and Muar.
Mohamed Nasir urged those who have yet to apply for new passports to get it done on Monday or Tuesday.
Among those waiting to submit applications yesterday was technician Hafez Norman, 22, who said his company had given him one day to sort it out.
“I was here on Wednesday but the numbers had run out. That is why I am here again,” he said.
Some were not aware of the deadline despite earlier news reports.
“I didn’t know about the deadline. I only found out this month that I would not be able to use my restricted passport from November. I came as soon as I could,” 31-year-old beautician Michelle Chen said.
Lorry driver N. Ravinderan, 37, who drives into Singapore every day, said that he needed a new passport.
“Customs officials in Singapore told me to keep my international passport on standby as they would be terminating the use of restricted passports soon,” he said.