On manouvering around red tape…

Just last week, my ever-trusted and battered passport finally heaved its last breath and expired. After being in service for exactly five years, and been to more places than my shoes have, it’s finally time to make a new one. In case you’re not a Malaysian, the ordeal most ordinary Malaysians face when dealing with red tape is simply mind boggling.

Usually, one has to be up at the crack of dawn, and make their way to the government office of choice. Once there, one has to wait with the patience of Job, and get a ‘number’…. Now, this number means that you might get to do what you set out to do. Operative word here is ‘might’… No guarantees the aunties just might decide on taking four coffee breaks and three smoking/praying/toilet/shopping breaks when its six numbers away from yours… If you do not have a number, go home. Try again tomorrow. There’s not even a chance of getting through the door. And usually, these numbers run out 2o minutes after the office of choice opens.

I heard through the grapevine that the Immigration Office, spankingly-new in Wangsa Maju, was implementing the ‘instant’ reward system for all Malaysian citizens intent on transacting with them. With this bit of information in hand, and forms and pictures all prepared, I set out to Wangsa Maju, ready to be sorely disappointed when told there’s no more numbers! You’re crazy to even try at 9 am! You don’t know ah, other people have been queuing since 6 in the morning?

Reaching their office, I found the place to be pleasantly un-sardine like. People actually had space to sit on. And I got a number! Miracle number one…

I sat down to wait a bit, since my turn was about 30-odd numbers away. Figured I’d see if its slow enough for me to escape to a nearby ‘mamak’ for breakfast. To my happy surprise, I didn’t have to wait long. Ten minutes in, and I’ve surrendered my passport and made payment. Miracle number two…

After the moolah bit, I was told to come back and collect my new passport in two hours. Really ah? Two hours?? So amazing?

To kill time, I finally went off to get my long-delayed breakfast. Eating maggi mee goreng doesn’t take too long, even if you eat it one string at a time… So, after about an hour, I walked back into the ‘waiting’ pen, and sat down. My number is about ten away, to my surprise… Getting my brand new passport in a heartbeat later, I thought it was simply amazing… Two hours from when I first stepped in, new passport is already in my hands! Miracle number three…

They say, in order to be canonized, one has to have three miracles. For me, this experience in Wangsa Maju was indeed ‘saintly’… I’ve never dealt with any other government entity who’s efficiency is miraculous. All I can say is, kudos guys! Congratulations for finally making at least one branch of the government efficient. Pak Lah, even with all your faults, you’re finally doing something right…

Looking forward to the day when Malaysia becomes a better place to live in – Jasmine

ps – Perhaps I’ll stay put after all… It’s not like we have another home in the South of France or anyhting….

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