Tuesday, January 23, 2007

All done in under 2 hours!!!

(Wah! All done with friendly, efficient service in under 2 hours. Syabas! Jabatan Imigresen, Cawangan Wangsa Maju.)

Photo courtesy of TV Smith

Ladies and germs, I am in shock today. I’d had an experience in a government office, which I never thought was possible. My visit to the Jabatan Imigresen, Cawangan Wangsa Maju to renew my international passport was actually a no-fuss and stress-free and pleasurable experience.

When I set off with my friend, TV Smith this morning I was frankly quite skeptical. I had read in the news papers that since Pak Lah’s “lightning visit” to the Immigration Department last year things have improved by leaps and bounds and the department had actually become efficient and service-oriented. Of course, the past few days the department had also released statements about their new express services. Passports renewed within the hour and so on. Never mind. I was still skeptical.

TV Smith and I decided to go the new immigration office in Wangsa Maju that had been in the news for their fast, efficient service. TV had rung up the Immigration HQ in Putrajaya to ask for directions and was pleasantly surprised when the lady who answered the phone gave clear directions to the office in Wangsa Maju. So we set off for Wangsa Maju. We drove around for about 30 minutes and didn’t find anything resembling an office complex much less a spanking new Immigration Department branch. We stopped by the side of the road and called Putrajaya again. This time nobody picked up the phone. After several failed attempts TV called the office in Pusat Bandar Damansara. We were told that the office we were looking for is NOT in Wangsa Maju but in Setapak Jaya. This time the person gave us a block by block verbal map to Wisma Rampai in Setapak Jaya where the branch office is located. Thank you.

The week old office is situated in a decrepit building and appeared the only new and efficient looking operation there. Well, except for the Chinese aunty who operates the photocopying and photo taking shop next door. Upon entering the office we were assaulted by a blast of cool air which smelt clean and fresh. Being a well trained Malaysian I headed straight to the nombor giliran counter where I was faced with a surly looking man who obviously wasn’t interested in anything other than the approaching tea break. Upon learning the purpose of my visit he informed me that I had to fill in a form which he will give me in exchange for RM1 and get photo copies of my NRIC before he would give me a nombor giliran. I later deduced that he was surly only because he probably didn’t like my face. When approached by TV Smith he was smiling and even addressed TV as “bro”! Maybe I cut him off on Radio 4. Other than Mr. Sourpuss all the other counter staff I dealt with were very pleasant. And they all smiled sincerely and were eager to be of service. I got my nombor giliran, filled borang, paid the RM300 renewal fee and was told to come back in 2 hours. Huh? Wasn’t the claim that it could be done in an hour or less? The officer patiently informed me, smiling, that they will try their best and that most of the time it would be completed well within that time. It was just that they were ‘playing safe’ (their words). Okay. The time was 11.43 a.m.

We went to have something to eat at one of the many restaurants and eateries nearby. When we returned the clock in the Immigration office showed 1.05 p.m. I asked at the counter if my passport was ready for collection. It wasn’t. But they were still within the 2 hour limit. Finally, my number was called at 1.25 p.m. and I collected my renewed passport from a lady who identified herself as a Pegawai Imigresen Tinggi after TV asked what the prefix PIT on her name tag meant.

All done within 2 hours. And the air in the office was cool and fresh and they even have a room set aside for nursing mothers. Now when was the last time you experienced a customer friendly, service-oriented government department?

Up side

Fast and efficient service.
Cool, fresh and clean environment.
Friendly, efficient staff.
Comfortable seating.
Room for nursing mothers.
A conspicuous absence of the infamous A4 paper signs.
Lots of restaurants and eateries in the area catering to all races.

Down side

The office is called Jabatan Immigresen, Cawangan Wangsa Maju. But it is NOT in Wangsa Maju. It is in Setapak Jaya.
The office is located in a decrepit building.
The writing counters have no pens or pencils.
The building has an AutoPay parking system with only one machine which only accepts RM1 notes and 50 sen coins.

Another plus for Malaysians is that this Immigration office is flanked by a JPN office for identity cards and stuff.

As we were leaving I overheard one gentleman, “Lesen. Lesen mana?”
They don’t do driving licences there.

(Niamah!!! Moments from the visit to Jabatan Imigresen, Cawangan Wangsa Maju here.)

(The Jabatan Imigresen, Cawangan Wangsa Maju. Remember, it's not in Wangsa Maju. It's in Setapak Jaya.)

Photo courtesy of TV Smith