I don’t know why MALAYSIAN Immigration Officers in Changloon, Malaysia, look down on Filipino passport holders. My brother ( a lawyer) and I flew from Manila to Bangkok, Thailand, on December 28, 2010 and celebrated New Year there. After the celebration, we took the train to Hat Yai, Thailand and then rode a mini-bus (van) to Penang, Malaysia.
Exiting Thailand is smooth, though the Immigration Officer was bluntly asking for 1 Ringgit which I flatly declined, telling him I have no Ringgit yet. I don’t want to consent corruption. Besides, I am just on a holiday! For God’s sake!
When we reached the Immigration counters in Changloon, Malaysia, we had to carry our heavy luggages and present our passport @ the counter. While I was following my mini-bus co-passengers in line, we were asking each other if we need to fill up an immigration form (there was no form in sight).
We had no one to ask since the room was in chaos because of so many inbound passengers. My co-passengers standing ahead of me in line were Caucasians. One is an American solo backpacker who will just make a U-turn from Thailand to Malaysia and back to Thailand ( she loves Thailand so much and she just wanted to re-enter Thailand with a fresh visa ) and a German girl. The immigration officer @ the counter gave them a 90-day visa without any question. Following me in line was a Thai girl with her Korean BF, and then a German guy, followed by my brother. ( All of them were given a 90-day visa except me and my brother.)
When my turn came, I presented my passport to the immigration officer. I smiled and greeted her good afternoon. She said good afternoon as well and returned my smile. When she saw my Philippine Passport, she stopped smiling and asked me if I was going to enter Thailand. I smiled and said, “No, I am going to Penang, Malaysia and I just came from Hat Yai, Thailand”. ( Why the heck would I line up inside that cramped and hot immigration room going to Malaysia if I was going to Thailand? Geez! ). She then turned to the immigration officer next to her and they began talking in their native language ( Malay ).
Sensing a problem, I then presented our return ticket from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Clark Field, Philippines. She took our tickets and read it. She scanned my passport and then passed on the tickets to the other immigration officer, who then asked me if I was going to the Philippines on January 5, 2011, via Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, I said yes. ( Geez, she was just repeating what is stated on my ticket). She asked me how long would I be staying in Malaysia, I said only for a few days since we were only on a holiday. She then asked me why I have so many stamps on my passport. I told her that I love travelling and that I am a travel blogger.
She then turned to the immigration officer who had my passport and then she took my passport, looked at the pages one by one again for the nth time. And then she gave my passport back to the immigration officer who was manning the counter where I presented my passport. And they talked again in Malay and then she turned to me and said she will give me 7 days only. I said no problem, since we were only booked for 2 nights in Penang, Malaysia and then we will be going to KL to take our flight back home. She then talked again to the other immigration officer in Malay. Then after like forever, she stamped my passport, asked the other immigration officer again, then wrote something and handed my passport back to me.
Hungry, tired and pissed off @ the shabby treatment that I got, I then proceeded to the exit and placed my heavy luggage @ the x-ray machine and waited for my brother @ the EXIT since we were not allowed to wait @ the immigration counter as everyone who travels frequently knows.
I did not bother to take a look at my passport. I just took it from her and said thank you because I was so tired already after enduring the train ride from Bangkok to Hat Yai,Thailand for almost 18 hours. And add to that our walking tour around Hat Yai, Thailand for 3 hours and our 5-hour journey via a mini-bus from Hat Yai to Georgetown in Penang with heavy luggages in tow. Trust me, my usual OC self can’t even check how I look. ( Enervon and 1,500 mg of vitamin C made me stand it all).
When we reached our hotel in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia, it was already around 7:00 p.m. I was very tired, hungry and pissed off as I can’t get over the shabby treatment that I got from the immigration officer @ Changloon. I was asking my brother why did the Malaysian Immigration in Changloon, gave me a shabby treatment ( he was also given 7 days but unlike me, he was given a transit visa) in complete contrast to the Thailand immigration officers who were always polite, kind and soft spoken.
I then opened my passport and saw that the Changloon Immigration Officer had put two stamps on my passport: first (1) is the 7 days permit with a note SPTUM ( I don’t know what that means!) then the second (2) stamp that says, TO REPORT TO IMMIGRATION OFFICE KUALA LUMPUR FOR VISA/ CLEARANCE.
Geez! That immigration Officer is such a pain in the neck. Why did she put that? What was she thinking? Why did she never explain that entry to me? My mind began to wonder, what if they detain me? I didn’t do anything wrong! Why do I have to report @ the imigration office in KL? My Penang vacation was ruined! I was doomed! I needed to report to the Immigration Office in Kuala Lumpur ASAP! I tried to convince myself to relax, my mind refused to listen. I wanted to scream with all my might and cried RACISM!
I asked the receptionist if we could refund our payment for the 2nd night for we have to go to Kuala Lumpur earlier than scheduled. He said whether we use the room or not we still have to pay for it. No ifs no buts! Uhu! That is how many Ringgit! Sayang naman! Anak ng tinapang buhay ito, dapat mag e-enjoy kami sa Georgetown, Penang, bakit naman kailangan ko pang mag report at mag research sa internet kung saan lupalop sa Kuala Lumpur matatagpuan ang Immigration Office nila. Hay buhay! Di ko magawang mag relax, di ko magawang lumunok ng pagkain kaka worry kung ano ang kasalanan ko at bakit ko kinakailangan mag report sa KL immigration office nila. Tumaas talaga ang dugo ko, na high blood ako!
Kahit pagod, puyat at walang pahinga, nag send ako ng message sa kaibigan kong Malaysian
, baka sakaling may maitulong siya, at sa aking kaklase noon college na naka pag asawa ng Malaysian.
Nagyayang kumain ang aking kapatid sapagkat wala pa kaming kinain halos noon araw na yun at halos walang tulog dahil sa napakagalaw na train galing sa Bangkok, Thailand.
Hindi ako nakatulog gaano, kakaisip kung ano ang nagawa kong mali at bakit ko kailangan mag report. Nagigising ako kada ikalawang oras. Kinabukasan, maghahanap kami sa internet kung saan ang address ng KL immigration. Pinilit ko na iwaksi sa aking isipan ang tatak sa aking passport, pinilit kong e-enjoy ang pagkain at mga lugar sa Georgetown, ngunit kahit anong pilit ko na iwaksi sa aking isipan ang pangyayari, ito ay parang multong nakasunod sa aking isipan. It is just like a cloud over my head, making me feel restless, annoyed, angry and what have you!
Despite the rain the following day, we proceeded with our walking tour, we scouted for the best rate from US Dollars to Ringgit and Pesos to Ringgit and compared where we could get the best deal. We went around Penang, then cut short our trip to return to our hotel to research for the KL immigration address.
Then I got a reply from both my friend and former classmate. My Malaysian friend said, “Oh my God!”, she wondered what happened, and said maybe the immigration misunderstood me. My former classmate said, I have nothing to worry about, but still, both of them said that I still have to report to KL immigration.
The word from my friend & classmate made me feel a little bit alright. My brother then suggested that we go to Georgetown Immigration Office and asked them about the stamp on my passport. But based on the net, the immigration office closes at 5:30 p.m. So kailangan, ipagpabukas na ulit ang pagpunta. Kasi unang una, never pa namin narating yun before, so maghahanap pa kami, baka kapusin na sa oras, kaya ipagpabukas na lang para mas sigurado. My brother took note of the address and look for it in the map. I had another sleepless night, I hardly tasted the food in Penang. For God’s sake who would feel okay while awaiting judgement day @ the immigration. I had no clue why do I had to endure all this because of my Philippine passport!
The following day we went to the immigration office in Penang. Upon seeing the stamp the immigration lady staff asked for my old passport. I said I left it in the Philippines. Then she asked me when did I arrived @ Penang. I said I arrived January 2, 2011 @ around 7:00 p.m. from Thailand. She then talk to another officer who then referred me to another immigration officer. The latter then escorted me to another room where my brother followed us fearing for my safety. The immigration officer got my passport and then asked me the same question the woman immigration staff asked in the other room. He then turned to another immigration officer. They talked in Malay while browsing my passport. After forever, he turned to me and laughed and then talked to another officer. He told me that he also find it weird that the Changloon Immigration Officer stamped my passport with only 7 days entry and with notation that I report to their KL office when in fact I should have been given a 30-day visit visa for tourist. He also suggested that I go to the immigration office in Kuala Lumpur and look for the boss and tell him there might have been a misunderstanding.
I felt a little bit relieved but despise the fact that I STILL HAVE TO REPORT IN KUALA LUMPUR IMMIGRATION AND CUT SHORT MY VACATION!!!
The Georgetown Immigration officer is kind and even pose for a photo as an evidence that I already reported to them. We then took the earliest possible bus from Georgetown to Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. ( 5 hours trip is actually 7 hours trip it turned out.)
Fast forward to January 5, 2011, the immigration officer stamped my passport and cleared me for exit from Malaysia. But when he saw the stamp in my passport stating that I need to report to the Immigration Office in Kuala Lumpur, he asked me to go to his boss @ LCCT if I want to be assured that there will be no problem the next time I enter Malaysia.
The immigration boss there looked at my passport and asked me questions which I readily answered. He browsed the pages of my passport one by one. He then said he will let me go. ( Aba dapat lang kasi wala akong violation!)
I asked the immigration Boss what did I do to deserve such treatment? He said there were many Illegal Filipino Workers who just make a U-turn. And since I have so many stamps on my passport, ( I travel a lot to different countries) the immigration officer in Changloon perceived me to be one of those tourist workers.
He said Filipinos usually stay illegally in Malaysia. He offered no apology whatsoever and asked me to go straight to the gate. What was he thinking? That I am going to make a U-turn? IS THIS WHAT THEY CALL SELAMAT DATANG MALAYSIA? CALLING THE TOURISM MALAYSIA PEOPLE, IS THIS HOW YOU WELCOME LEGIT FILIPINO TOURIST? SHOULD I ADVISE MY FELLOW FILIPINO TOURISTS NOT TO GO TO MALAYSIA BECAUSE THE IMMIGRATION OFFICERS HAD ALREADY CLASSIFIED US, PHILIPPINE PASSPORT HOLDERS, AS TOURIST WORKERS? I FELT HELPLESS, I FELT HUMILIATED, I FELT VIOLATED. I hope somebody would admit that they are treating Philippine passport holders like shit and trying to use ‘the rules’ in their own twisted interpretation. So I guess it is not only the taxi drivers in Malaysia that shows third world mentality but also some Immigration officers who are racists.