KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 ― The Malaysian Immigration Department today pinned the congestion and long queues at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore to system glitches and damage to one of the passport printers there.

In a statement, Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud said the congestion at the High Commission was also caused by the number of passport applications which increased dramatically and walk-in applicants who arrived without making appointments through the Online Appointment System (STO).

“As informed, starting February 4, 2021, all matters at the Immigration office at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore were to be done through the STO. 

“Prior to the STO, service appointments were only made manually via email. 

“To overcome this problem, the Malaysian Immigration Department advises Malaysians in Singapore to renew their passport online,” the statement said. 

Khairul said applications will be processed and the passports will be printed in four to five weeks. 

He added that the Malaysian Immigration Department was also awaiting approval from the Singapore Foreign Ministry to allow employees of Datasonic Berhad to enter the country to carry out repair work. 

“At the same time, the priority of passport renewal will be given to Malaysians who need to extend their work permits in the near future,” he said. 

He further explained that previously, Malaysians in Singapore would return to renew their passports in Johor Baru, but due to the border closure, this has caused congestion at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore. 

“Apart from that, the implementation of mandatory quarantine in Malaysia for 10 days and Singapore for 14 days has made it difficult for Malaysians to return to renew their passports at other immigration department branches in Malaysia. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the implementation of border controls as well as quarantine rules has prevented how passport renewals were done previously,” said Khairul.  

According to Khairul, on normal days, the Malaysian Immigration office in Singapore is capable of processing as many as 100 passport renewal applications per day. 

He said throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the application process has been increased to 350 applications per day. 

“However, throughout this week, online renewal requests have increased from 200 a day to 450 per day, where most applicants arrive without making an appointment through the STO. 

“We advise Malaysians in Singapore to make arrangements online to prevent congestion,” he added. 

Yesterday, the Straits Times reported long queues at the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore, with some Malaysians being turned away as admittance numbers ran out. 

According to the report, the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore only allows up to 30 Malaysians for passport renewal services.