The current episode of two women driving to JB in the wee hours of the morning for a cup of tea and the adrenalin sapping adventure they experienced is a hot topic on both sides of the causeway. Hishamuddin, the Home Affairs Minister, is setting up an inquiry into the case.
Many Singaporeans are angry and crying foul. Some are calling for a Stop Visiting Malaysia campaign to protest against the ill treatment of Singaporeans. The thinking is simple, why visit a country to be abused and harassed, not only by robbers and crooks, but also by the authority there to protect you? This is a double barrel risk to take.
This kind of reaction is quite natural in the heat of the moment. But with the complex relations between the two countries and people, this is just not possible. There are many people on both sides of the causeway that have all the good reasons to cross the causeway. The fact in this case, which is a genuine mistake with the errant parties walking to the immigration to correct the mistake but was hauled up and badly treated, like criminals, and with the authority throwing the books at them for immigration violation, has sent fears to innocent visitors to the country.
There was no attempt for discretion, to acknowledge a simple, honest mistake which many visitors to any country can make, and to subject visitors to such an ordeal cannot be taken lightly. Can’t the immigration officers see the difference between a genuine mistake and a criminal offence to arrest innocent visitors? The Immigration Authority is still claiming the high ground, that they were doing their duties when any normal thinking person would have handle the case differently.
Perhaps for Singaporeans who feel like protesting as a show of unhappiness, they could advise Singaporeans who have nothing important to stop visiting Malaysia for a month. Those casual visits, holidays etc, can be put off temporarily and would not cause any pain to anyone. It is just about sending a message. After that, hopefully the message is taken and visitors are treated a little courtesy as a show that they are welcome to visit Malaysia. It is basic hospitality and human decency to make your guests feel welcome, and to assist them when they make little mistakes because of unfamiliarity in a new environment.