Starting 1 May, the government has relaxed the Covid-19 SOPs and reopened the country’s international borders. This also means that Malaysians are now free to go on an overseas holiday trip after a long 2-year wait.
On Saturday (21 May), a massive crowd was seen clamouring at the Ipoh Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) as they rushed their way to the immigration office when shutters opened at 7.50 am.
It was chaos at the scene as people pushed and shouted their way past the building entrance, all wanting to be first in line at the office.
According to The Vibes, at least 200 were already waiting, some from as early as 5.30 am. Although the premise was closed, the crowd started a makeshift queue, with people turning up later in the day.
Once the shutters opened, chaos broke out as people abandoned the queue and started rushing into the premise.
“Getting to the immigration counter was like the survival of the fittest. Everyone was in a mad dash, like a herd of animals, to get into the front of the line and couldn’t care less about those who came way earlier than they did.”
“People were shouting, shoving and just running to the immigration office. There were even parents who came with their kids and the elderly. It was so upsetting to watch all this happen,” a reader was quoted as saying by The Vibes.
She said the officers did their best to control the crowd too. “I was lucky to get a number and sort my applications. But I am not sure about the others as people keep coming in as time goes by. It seems the entire city wants to get their passports renewed,” she added.
On social media, many netizens shared their similar experience of having to wait in long queues at immigration offices around the country.
Twitter user @ClaudiaKhaw shared that it was the same at UTC Pudu, where immigration officers are still processing passport applications that were filed the day before.
Live from the UTC in Pudu to get a passports done. We arrived at 9:15 a.m. It’s 10:28 and there has been no movement. According to the first person in line (here since 8), the officers are working on yesterday’s citizens. We have inched forward over the hour, because people left pic.twitter.com/LppAjrFhiM— Claudia Khaw (@ClaudiaKhaw) May 21, 2022
“Live from the UTC in Pudu to get passports done. We arrived at 9.15 a.m. It’s 10.28 and there has been no movement. According to the first person in line (here since 8), the officers are working on yesterday’s citizens. We have inched forward over the hour, because people left.”
“For context, we already filled out an application online, but did not receive an email back. Upon calling, they said we have to come IRL (in real life).” she shared.
Meanwhile, the Immigration Department has also responded to the incident by extending the operating hours to 10 pm on weekdays.
Director-General of Immigration, Datuk Seri Khairul Dzaimee Daud, said the extension of operating hours effective today involved six states, including Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.