I was traveling in Europe some years back and standing in line to be processed by Immigration at Dublin Airport. When I got to the counter, the Immigration officer looked at my Malaysian passport and told me to stand aside. Whilst waiting for him to finally deal with me, I wondered what concerning my documents attracted this ‘special treatment’. I had come to Dublin from the UK and as far as I knew, persons traveling to Ireland from the UK, did not need to get any special entry visas before embarking on their journey. This included non-EU citizens. I stood leaning against the counter resting my cheek on my hand, waiting to see what he would say when he finally dealt with me.
It took around 10 minutes before all those after me had been waved through, then, without offering any explanation, he simply said, “You’re all right” and let me through. This was rather weird, what had he been expecting me to do on seeing my Malaysian passport? I mulled this over as I went to the carousel to collect my luggage.
Then, it hit me – was he expecting me ( a Malaysian) to ‘grease his palm’ as a means of avoiding embarrassment? Was this a trap by Immigration to catch out less than honest Malaysians who may be in the habit of ‘getting out of trouble’ this way? Or was my passport so foreign that he’d never seen such a passport before, or was he just being down right racist? At any rate, having done nothing, and having nothing to hide, perhaps indicated to him that I was not one of those, nor would I jump to conclusions about being discriminated against before I had any proof of it.
Some people may think that I should be howling ‘blue murder’ when he stopped me, but as luck would have it, I think keeping my cool is the better part of valor than kicking up a rackus to prolong this ‘ordeal’ and face possible deportation or detention at the airport, and a whole can of other worms.
In hindsight, I think that being stopped at a foreign airport by Immigration on the apparent basis of possessing a Malaysian passport says something about the kind of reputation we seem to have overseas – coming from a country with a reputation for corruption. There are reports of Malaysians committing crimes overseas, Malaysians engaging in illegal businesses, and becoming illegal immigrants by overstaying, particularly in the UK. But, this doesn’t mean that ALL Malaysians traveling overseas should be suspects or that all have an intention to commit offences of whatever nature.
So who can we ‘thank’ for giving all Malaysians a worldwide bad reputation as persons likely to engage in illegal or corrupt activities, should I whisper their name?
Those, who, Malaysians know are squandering our taxpayers hard earned money and now trying to ‘buy’ our votes with regular payouts, sweet words and “kept promises” (janji di tepati). Who else can we blame for the blight on our good name?