Malaysia Uncut

A Repository of Malaysian Stuff and More

What? KL is Not the Centre of the Universe?

I refer to the letter  VMY 2007: Immigration dept ruining it. I am an Australian whom is married to a Malaysian national. I would like to share with your readers how a white foreigner does not feel welcome at all when going through customs and immigration checkpoints.

I had previously never been to Malaysia and in fact, my first trip overseas recently was to your country. I was quite excited and after a fairly pleasant five-hour plus flight on MAS from Perth, I was looking forward to the experience.

I was impressed with KLIA, how clean, modern and efficient everything seemed. All was going well until I reached the customs and immigration counters. That was where the penny dropped. I had my big smile on and was excited and eager to get through.

There was a lady behind the counter, looking more like a military personnel rather than a friendly immigration officer. I told her it was my first trip here and expected some tips on places to go or things to see and so on. Even a general welcome would have been nice.

But no. This lady looked at me like I was some alien from another world and not welcome in her country. No smile, just a wave of the hand to beckon me towards the counter and later a finger pointing where to go next.

That was my first impression of Malaysia. I, therefore, completely agree with the writer of the above letter. As I am not a Malaysian, I felt I needed to tell this from the perspective of a foreigner and how we are greeted.

This was not a one-off time. Every time I have since entered and left Malaysia, the ladies behind the customs and immigration counters all seem to behave the same!

Malaysia needs to pay closer attention to her image abroad. Before I met my wife, to be honest, I never even knew what country KL belonged to. But it isn’t the centre of the universe as most Malaysians believe.

Source: Malaysiakini 


Sunday, January 7, 2007 - Posted by | Commentary, Issues

1 Comment »

  1. Hello,
    I read with interest your article “What? KL is not the centre of the universe?’ and would like to express some of my own views on the matter.
    I am British married to a Malaysian and we live in Europe. I have lived for many years in Malaysia and tend to agree about the ‘unfriendly’ immigration staff. However, I would point out that they are generally reserved with everyone, Malaysian and non Malaysians alike. Further, I have travelled to many countries over the years and note that Immigration officers in general are not friendly, I guess their job is a serious one, they are not there to promote the country per se. My experience in Australia is a case in point and wasnt a pleasant one either. In fact I was questioned on one occassion when I was making a stopover in Kuala Lumpur (to visit my in laws) en route from Sydney. I was asked by immigration whether I had a ticket proving that I would be flying onwards to Europe. I was treated as if I somehow wanted to enter Malaysia illegally! As if that was the business of Australian immigration!
    You should also bear in mind that the English language is not one of the strongest points for Malaysian civil servants, Bahasa Malaysia being the national language.
    Finally, your last sentence generalises too much, If you sat down a few times with a group of Malaysians at their ‘teh tarik’ time you would know that they do not believe that Malaysia is the centre of the universe and have no problem with expressing views to the contrary!

    Comment by Ann Sidhu | Saturday, January 13, 2007 | Reply

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