Impose law and order on the JB Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex

My gripe about my experience which happened today, with the new Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex (Bangunan Sultan Iskandar) in Johor Bahru that opened today, that was written up in word form today, and sent to Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini today. Promptness, the great advantage of New Media!

I doubt the relevant authorities will be reading Malaysia Today or Malaysiakini, however. They never do except to bash them.

From Malaysia Today:

Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex CIQ Bangunan Sultan Iskandar JB    Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex CIQ Bangunan Sultan Iskandar JB

Impose law and order on the JB Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex

On Tuesday, the 16th of December 2008, the new Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex (Bangunan Sultan Iskandar) began operations in Johor Bahru. As one of the thousands of Malaysians who commutes to work in Singapore daily, I was a firsthand witness to the new system.

Overall, I must say that I am impressed by the facilities of the CIQ Complex – and more so by the security and verification measures that the old customs system sorely lacked.

However, I have one very serious gripe that I hope the CIQ Complex management will immediately seek to rectify.

Once a bus passenger clears the passport check, the next process is to head back down to the bus waiting area to try and catch a bus. On a workday morning, this step is literally a descent into madness.

If any reader has ever taken a bus from Malaysia to Singapore at the old customs complex, they’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Just like always, the bus crowd becomes a literal rabid mob!

There is no concept of cutting queue, because there is no such thing as a queue. Pushing, shoving and elbowing are the rule. Manners and gentility are the suicidal exception.

Four to eight people will simultaneously try to force their way into the bus door from every direction. One either joins the gladiatorial mob, or misses the bus. And the next one after that. And the next one, and the next one.

It doesn’t matter in what order you arrive at the bus waiting area – the only criteria that count are brute strength and a willingness to trample your own civility into the asphalt.

Not only is this chaotic, uncomfortable, highly inefficient, and an environment where might makes right and the meek do not inherit the bus seat. It is also mortally dangerous, as the surging crowd spills far out onto the road, forcing the buses to carefully inch past the thronging bodies and making things even slower.

There are no markings demarcating official queue lines. There are no guidelines for safe and orderly boarding. Even the old customs complex had metal bars to attempt to form an orderly bus queue (but which were usually ignored anyway).

At least with the old customs complex, you could avoid becoming one of the uncivilized bus barbarians by simply walking across the one kilometre of the Johor-Singapore Causeway.

But now a journey on foot down the ‘Great CIQ Mountain’ and then across the Causeway takes at least twice the time and sweaty effort. (Yes, I’ve timed it.) It is a daunting odyssey, what more if you also had to walk up to the CIQ Complex!

And I say this as an adult, whole in body and wearing comfortable flat-soled shoes. Imagine the conundrum faced by the old, infirm, young children, and wearers of high heels.

Therefore, on behalf of every single Malaysian and foreigner who will ever pass through the CIQ Complex in the countless decades to come, I sincerely, pleadingly and beseechingly request that the CIQ Complex management take immediate measures to rectify this highly embarrassing situation with the bus queues.

First, clearly demarcate the queuing lines for each bus waiting area. Second, put up plenty of notices forcefully stating the strict requirement for orderly queues. Third, assign enough dedicated staff to ensure people obey these rules. Fourth, impose harsh punishment for queue-jumpers and give staff full and official authority to reprimand offenders.

Sad and shameful though it may be, the only way many Malaysians will act civilized is if they are forced to by strict rule of law, backed up with debilitating punishment for disobedience.

I sincerely hope that these concrete measures will be carried out as soon as possible. For at current, every visitor and tourist who passes through the CIQ Complex is left with the impression that Malaysia is a nation with First World facilities but a truly Third World mentality.

From Malaysiakini:

Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex CIQ Bangunan Sultan Iskandar JB Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex CIQ Bangunan Sultan Iskandar JB Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex CIQ Bangunan Sultan Iskandar JB

Same as for Malaysia Today, but with the title Law and order urgently needed at CIQ Complex.

Trust me: It is hell taking a bus at the customs.


This guy wrote a letter to The Star complaining about the chaos as well:

Chaos at new CIQ complex

I AM one of the thousands of workers who commute to work via the Causeway every day. Yesterday, the new CIQ was opened to all traffic including bus passengers.

Previously, we used to park our motorcycles at a parking lot beside the KTM station and walk to the old CIQ complex for Immigration clearance and to take the bus to Singapore. In this way we avoided the long wait at the motorcycle lane at Woodlands (Singapore).

With the new CIQ, we have a long walk from the parking lot to the immigration clearance point. We also have to the climb stairs to the third level.

At the immigration clearance point, we have to insert our passport into the E-pass reader machine and have our thumbprint scanned before we are let into the departure area. At the old CIQ complex, we only had to show our passport to the immigration officers.

With thousands of workers waiting to get through the immigration point, a long queue builds up. Here, we wait another 30 minutes. Then we walk down to the area where the buses wait. The scene here is like that in a war movie, with people walking and running all over. Most of them do not know where to go to take the bus to Singapore.

Factory buses, public buses, express buses and vans are parked indiscriminately everywhere. Everyone rushes to the buses just to get out of this mess.

Everyone is pushing and trying to get into the bus one way or another. I pity the women and small-sized workers.

There is no proper signage, nor assistance from immigration officers or complex personnel. They look like they are confused, too. This is a bad experience on the first day itself. I don’t know what is going to happen next.

Looks like I will have to get up at least 45 minutes earlier than usual to get through this nightmare every day, even though I already wake at 4.30am every morning just to reach my work place at 7.30am.

Something needs to be done quick to overcome these problems.

Johor Baru.


See also my letter about the difficulty in walking the JB-Singapore route now, at Pedestrians Have it Tough at CIQ.

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3 Responses to “Impose law and order on the JB Custom & Immigration Quarantine Complex”

  1. simon thong Says:

    I took a bus from JB to S’pore before the CIQ was opened, in August this year. Did it for 2 consecutive days. On the JB side, rushing, rushing, rushing..and to get onto the bus, fight. But it was still manageable. From S’pore to JB, orderly queues. Malaysians queueing! But only on the S’pore side. When will the new be better than the old? Give it 3 months? 3 weeks? Definitely not 3 days. Could even be 3 years, given the authorities we have and the mentality of Malaysians on the JB side.

    Talking about queueing. In 1977, when we lived in Wellington, NZ, the mother of a fellow Malaysian visited him. At the bus stand, as soon the bus arrived, Mum rushed to get into the bus, to the shock and horror of both son and everyone else. As she got to the top of the steps, the driver said, “Lady, please go to the back of the queue.” Which was what she did.

  2. simon thong Says:

    Johor Immigration Director seems to think that the problems are minor. However, he doesn’t have to catch the bus from JB to Sgpore and back. He can talk big and sit all day and grow his “southern region” bigger and his PJK (perut jalan kehadapan) bigger. He doesn’t have to face the problems he and his underlings cause for commuters.

  3. Joe Smith Says:

    On simon thong’s 1997 Wellington observation, if the bus driver dare reproach a Malaysian passenger int he manner he describe, he will be very lucky to receive 100 stitches; luckier if he is killed instantly in this lawless state where the cops and the crooks are no different except in the way they get their hands on yr dosh.

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