June 15, 2022
KUALA LUMPUR – It has been two months since the border crossing with Singapore was fully reopened but issues persist on both sides of the Johor Causeway.
On the Malaysian side, there have been issues with faulty escalators and passport autogates breaking down, among others, at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (BSI) complex in Johor Baru.
There were also complaints from Singaporeans who alleged that some vehicle counters at the BSI were not manned by Immigration officers at night, resulting in them driving through without stamping their passports.
This has prompted the Singapore authorities put up alerts on social media reminding their citizens of the do’s and don’ts when entering Malaysia, especially during the recent Singapore school holidays.
These teething problems at BSI have caught the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, who made separate visits recently.
Now on the Singapore side, a ruling requiring visitors to fill out their “white” cards, or a short-term pass, electronically has caught some Malaysians by surprise after the borders reopened on April 1.
Some, who were unaware of the ruling that has been around for more than two years, were forced to wait for up to three hours to fill in the “white card” online at the border.
Singapore stopped using physical white cards when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit in March 2020.
For 37-year-old Rahimin Lokman, a short trip to visit his friends in Singapore turned out to be a nightmare when he took three hours to get his online white card application done.
“I thought it was the same physical system, but when I got to the immigration counter, they said I had to submit my white card online.
“I had trouble getting an Internet line to download the application and fill in the form,” he said, adding that luckily, the Singapore immigration officer was patient and also helped him download and fill in the form.
Rahimin said it was a huge inconvenience, especially with the long queues for those waiting to enter the country.
Housewife Wolni Jungin, 38, said she was able to fill in the online arrival card and enter Singapore last month with the help of her teenage nephews.
“I wanted to enter Singapore to visit my sister, brother and husband who are working there.
“The last time I went into Singapore on my own was about five years ago, and back then, we could fill in the white card manually, which was much easier for me,” she said.
“However, we can only do so now online and it is difficult for someone like me who is not well-versed in technology. Luckily, my nephews were able to help me out.”
She said she filled in the arrival card on May 17, three days before travelling to Singapore, and received a confirmation email just minutes later.
A teacher who only wanted to be known as Chua, 37, said that the mobile app that is being used to replace the paper-based white card could be slow at times, making it difficult for a smooth application to go through.
“At the moment, I am unable to fill in the arrival card through the app as it directs me to another webpage instead to fill in the form.
“The app is slow. I tried using it and it takes a very long time to load.
“It is a lot faster and easier to complete the process on a computer or laptop,” he said, adding that he had recently visited Singapore after the border reopened.
Singapore had discontinued the paper-based disembarkation and embarkation card, better known as the white card, for arriving foreign travellers on March 27, 2020.
Travellers now have to submit an electronic health declaration card via the Singapore Arrival Card eservice or the MyICA mobile app instead.
The island republic had also announced that starting from April 15, Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 no longer have to fill in the online health declaration when entering the country via its land checkpoints.
However, all travellers arriving in Singapore via air or sea would still have to continue to fill in the Singapore Arrival Card.