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Cheap shopping and makan in Johor Bahru?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

I read the terrible experience of the two Singaporean ladies who suffered at the hands of the Malaysian Immigration and Customs with much feeling. 

I have stopped going to JB for shopping and makan (Malay for "eating") for years now. The numerous reports of robbery, murder, burglary, car thefts etc raised a red flag. How these criminals seem to target Singaporeans really did it for me. 

However, past reports of how Singaporeans suffered at the hands of the Malaysian Immigration and Polis (that's how it is spelt in Malaysia, if I remember correctly) really angered me. 

Is it not enough that we have to worry about criminals? Do we have to worry about the law enforcers as well? Ahem, in Malaysia, yes!

My family used to go to JB regularly many years ago for recreation. I remember once when we were about to leave that my mom discovered her passport was not stamped with an exit stamp the last time we visited. It created a bit of an inconvenience that time when we were leaving the country. 

However, since she had an entry stamp, she was not fined or jailed for illegal entry and she could not be charged for overstaying as well since she just received another entry stamp for our then current trip. I remember she still had to pay a "fine" while we waited for her and my dad in the car.

From then on, we made it a point to check our passports carefully each time we went through Malaysian customs. Good thing we did too because on another trip later on, my dad's passport was not stamped upon entry. We stopped the car by the roadside and my dad walked back to the booth to get his entry stamp. It was a long walk and we waited for him in the car for more than 30 minutes. Thank goodness, no complications because his immigration "white card" (Malaysian immigration form) was all in order.

It has been many years since I was last in JB. I do not see why I should go to JB for shopping and makan just to save some $10 or so per trip. Actually, the imported goods are cheaper in Singapore. 

Unless we have a penchant for buying large quantities of Buatan Malaysia (Made in Malaysia) products, we can't save much money. The potential risks and the angst are just not worth the small savings.

Anyway, I get the feeling that Singaporeans are not welcomed in JB as they look at us as the reason for higher cost of living there. Why should we be so thick skinned to go to a place which does not welcome us? 

Give JB a miss, I say.

Want a good and inexpensive meal? Go to one of our famed hawker centres! I have blogged about quite a few too. 

Happy and safe makan! Burp!

Read articles here:
S’pore duo to file complaint against M’sia Immigration

(Added in November 2016)


Hwang said...

Hi AK71,

I am a Malaysian, and the practices of our enforcers really put a shame on my face. That's why i agree with some folks to send PAP team to Malaysia should they lost the election. Haha...

Moreover, JB is certainly not as safe as Singapore (with those Indonesians and Bangladeshis sitting in the alleys) and cheap either! Those greedy businessmen purposely raised the prices to match Singapore's.

So, it's not just you.

AK71 said...

Hi Hwang,

I have many friends in Malaysia and many are in JB. Believe me when I say I know your pain.

Not too long ago, some friends in JB invited me for dinner. I apologised and said I no longer visit JB as I am afraid of the high crime rate. They told me they understand because they are afraid too!

I have another friend in Sabah who told me that they have to fear the unofficial thugs (criminals) and the official thugs (immigration and polis). Bribery is a way of life there but he said that without corruption, many things would stop working! After years of doing business with Malaysia in my current company, I know it is true.

We can only hope that the government does some much needed housekeeping soon. Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Hi AK71,
My wife and i use to drive into JB once in a while.(once in 2 or 3 months) to shop. We heard a lot of true happenings similar to what happened to your mum. So we always scrutinize our passports immediately after we get back from the JB immigration officer before we really drive off.
Nevertheless, once it happened that my wife passport was chopped with exit stamp but mine was not. And by the time we realized, my car was one third of the causeway(from JB's side).
So i have the presence of mind to bring my wife's passport and mine back to the immigration counter; walking all the way back while my wife waited in the car. i explained to them what happened and you know what? The whole gang of JB's immigration officers were playing bola with me.
i guess they must be contemplating whether they had a case to charge me officially or of course unofficially(money into thier pockets). i insisted that i had not even passed one third of the course-way and my wife's passport was the proof and she was still waiting in the car.
Finally after some fun with me, they realized they did not have any case against me, they let me go with a proper exit chop.

You see not chopping your passport when you exit and then when you re-enter you will be officially charged or most likely unofficially charged(official extortion) for exiting the country illegally. This trick for extortion has been going on for donkey years especially for Singaporeans. i hope one day somehow it happens to relatives of our multi-millionaire ministers, then we see whether this problem will be solved. But i think the multi-millionaire minister's relatives just make one phone call and everything will be settled on the quite.
The common people is the common people.
Don't think our GOV will or can do anything if jackpot machine is not running. Ha! Ha!
But wait, WWW's world may be able to force the Malaysia GOV to do something or if UN starts to think this is an interesting case to study when UN has too few cases to handle.

AK71 said...

Hi Temperament,

Thank you for sharing your experience. It is galling, isn't it?

For those who still insist on crossing into JB to spend their hard earned money, they just have to be more cautious, I suppose. I am giving JB a wide berth! ;)

Anonymous said...

for me, I will skip JB for as much as I can.

except for that required transit or entry/exit. My local friends there has been telling me that they don't go out at night and admires Singapore relative cleanliness and safety. Something that we sillyporean took for granted as a birth-right - it is not, as far as our neighboring governments are producing.

Was at the short train ride from Tg Pagar, before it is gone. At the railway station and inside the KTM trains, I sensed that I was like back in China, where I had to watch my front & back pocket + bags will 110% alertness. Sianz....


AK71 said...

Hi SnOOpy168,

I hear you loud and clear. We are indeed very lucky to have a safe and clean living environment in Singapore. We have to thank our visionary leaders who have brought us thus far and remember never to take things for granted. :)

sweety said...

Hey people I really want to thank u all for sharing your experience at JB. . I came to know how cautious I have to be and am sure that this would surely help me when I visit JB. .:)

AK71 said...

Foreign private-registered vehicles entering Malaysia via Johor will be subjected to an RM20 (S$6.60) charge from Nov 1, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Friday (Oct 28).

The road charge (RC) will be collected each time motorists enter Malaysia via Touch n’ Go cards, according to the statement. The RC system has been activated at the two land entry points in Johor - the Causeway and the Second Link - and will be extended to the 10 other entrances into the country in stages.

"Initial collection exercise will only involve foreign private-registered vehicles excluding foreign registered motorcycles," MOT added.

The ministry said the RC is not to be confused with the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP).

It described the VEP, which requires foreign vehicles entering Malaysia to be registered via an online portal for an RFID tag costing RM10, as "part of ongoing efforts by the Government of Malaysia to improve border control and monitoring".


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