23 October 2021
– By Mariam Mokhtar
With the lifting of interstate and international travel restrictions, have fully vaccinated Malaysians wishing to travel found any issue with the government guidelines?
On Oct 11, the government announced its success in achieving its target of vaccinating 90% of the adult population. Fully vaccinated Malaysians were allowed across state borders.
Malaysians wishing to travel overseas were told that the MyTravelPass app was no longer required. Previously, Malaysians who studied or worked abroad had to utilise this app before their journey.
Although international tourists are still banned from visiting the country, foreigners can enter Malaysia for emergencies, for business or official purposes.
We were also told that anyone entering Malaysia, both local or foreign, had to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine.
However, sharp-eyed Malaysians discovered that even 10 days after the government announced that the MyTravelPass app was no longer required, it had failed to update its travel website.
One person planning an overseas trip said: “Not alerting Malaysians who use the website that the MyTravelPass is now irrelevant will create confusion among travellers, especially as the website proudly displays the message, ‘Bagi tujuan melancong dan bercuti tidak di benarkan’.”
That website was not the only one to display incomplete or outdated information.
Another Malaysian who returned from Europe said that the https://airport.doctor2u.my/ link contained misleading information regarding the cost of coronavirus tests.
PCR test at airport
The website had described the procedure needed after landing at KLIA. The Covid-19 PCR test had to be conducted for each traveller arriving and payment could be made in advance or in person at KLIA. The test costs RM250 per person.
Many Malaysians, wanting peace of mind, will have booked and paid for the PCR test in advance to avoid any queues at KLIA.
However, one Malaysian found that the website would not accept his MyKad. He said: “I was born overseas and the doctor2u website would not accept my MyKad because it did not recognise the last two digits.”
Having emailed to ask about resolving the issue, he was told: “We have never encountered the problem of an overseas-born Malaysian. We have never seen a MyKad number with these odd digits.”
As his MyKad issue was unresolved, he decided to pay for the test at KLIA. This was when he discovered that the test was actually free for Malaysians.
He said: “Why did they not state this on the website? Does that mean hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Malaysians would have prepaid for this test? Will they be refunded? Will they be notified about this error?”
Another Malaysian who returned from overseas found that another site, MySafeTravel (myeg.com.my) had contained misleading information regarding the cost of the Covid-19 testing at KLIA.
He found that the Malaysia Airports website was also advertising these paid services: https://airports.malaysiaairports.com.my/covid-information/health-checks-quarantine-procedure.
So, why are these sites not being updated?
Outdated and insecure
Another Malaysian, who had to renew his passport for an emergency application to travel overseas, found the Immigration website outdated and insecure. A message had flashed on his computer screen when he clicked on the government link, warning him that the site was not secure and any passwords or credit card details could be compromised. This website would have taken payment for his passport renewal.
He said: “There is no provision or priority given for emergency travel overseas. Moreover, all applications can only be processed within 10 working days.”
When he received his new passport, two immigration officers tried to sell him thick covers for the passport because they said that the new printing vendor had made “extra sensitive” passports that were easily damaged.
Why were these female officers allowed to sell accessories for these “fragile passports? Had immigration notified the new vendors about their poor-quality products? Will their contract be terminated?
Upon landing at KLIA, everyone had to download the MySejahtera application onto their phones and complete the travel form which would initiate the quarantine, his risk level status and be given the pink quarantine bracelet.
More surprises were in store. The result for the PCR test at KLIA was supposed to be ready 48 hours later, but for some, the results were only completed after 68 hours. One person also found that his result had been backdated. He said: ”The whole process lacks professionalism and everyone involved is incompetent.”
It is apparent that when ministers, their spouses and their politically connected friends travel overseas during the pandemic, they face few problems. Many of them don’t understand the concerns of the ordinary rakyat who have to face bureaucratic bungles.
Government officials should at least perform a dry run to test the efficiency of the system so that Malaysians forced to travel abroad, and returning home, can do so without any hassle or grief.
There is no consistency in the procedures and many Malaysians are at the mercy of the Little Napoleons who interpret the rules haphazardly.