Long lines at Immigration offices in Perak, Johor

PETALING JAYA: Although there was a lull at Immigration offices in the Klang Valley, those in other states were kept busy from the break of dawn till late in the day as thousands of Malaysians rushed to renew their passports.

In Ipoh, over 100 people were seen lining up at the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) from very early in the morning. The UTC in Johor Baru saw the same situation.

Retiree Thunsh Kodi, 61, said he arrived at the Ipoh UTC at 6.30am.

“I woke up at 5am and ate a heavy breakfast to make sure I would have the energy to wait at the Immigration office.

“The UTC only opens at 8am, so I waited and ran to the Immigration office once it opened. For an elderly man like me, having to run while wearing a face mask just to get my passport renewed is quite ridiculous,” he said.

Thunsh said he had earlier gone to the Perak Immigration Department headquarters in Meru, but was told that all passport-related issues could only be done at UTCs.

“The building in Meru is bigger and more spacious with plenty of parking space, and my house is in Jelapang which is just a few minutes away.

“It puzzles me why we can’t just renew passports there,” he said, adding that he was scheduled to fly to India at the end of the year.

“When I went to Meru, they told me to apply for the renewal online. While I do have a laptop and Internet connection, the system has many glitches,” Thunsh noted.

Sariah Abdullah, 61, needs to get her visa done quickly to perform umrah. She is scheduled to fly to Saudi Arabia on May 20.

“I came to the UTC with my husband at 8am thinking we might be early, but the line was already very long. I’m worried that I won’t be able to renew my passport,” she said, adding that she too had been turned away in Meru.

“That place is huge. Why can’t it be open for passport matters?”

A check at the Immigration office in Meru confirmed that the office no longer handles any matter relating to passport renewal.

In Johor Baru, a large crowd was seen making a beeline for the UTC building there.

Many were left disappointed after being told to go home as passport renewals had to be done online and not via walk-ins.

Trader M. Nageswari, 37, said she had come to renew her passport as she did not know how to make an online application.

“Unfortunately, I was told that only those with special needs, the elderly, first-time applicants and those below the age of 18 were allowed to do walk-in renewals.

“I am very frustrated as I came all the way from Skudai for nothing,” she said, adding that she would get her son to help her with the online application so that she could visit her relatives in Singapore.

Housewife Suhaila Hussein, 32, also said she was clueless about how the online application worked and did not know who to turn to.

“There was an officer who helped out applicants but with so many people seeking assistance, he could not handle the crowd.

“The department should set up a counter to help those who do not know to use the online system,” she said.

Retiree Ismala Sajadi, 62, was relieved as she was allowed to make a walk-in application.“There was already a long line when we arrived at 10am. We saw a few people leave after being told they were not eligible for walk-ins.

“I was allowed to walk in as I am over 60. It was a relief for me, but I felt bad for others,” she said.

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