KUALA LUMPUR: There was no reason for Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail to blindly defend the immigration officer for being rude over an individual’s experience in renewing a passport, recently.
Former Penang deputy chief minister P. Ramasamy said there were no elements in the law or government regulations that stipulate that an individual renewing the passport must be proficient in Bahasa Malaysia or must have passed a language examination.
“Surely, Saifuddin despite his eagerness to be popular with the Malay civil servants failed to distinguish what is required by the law and not.
“Saifuddin needs to be reminded that he or the country’s civil servants should not play language politics when it comes to public interest.
“Rather than shooting his mouth, (he) should have investigated the incident and he should have been advised by the government’s legal team that there is no Malay or language requirement test for the mere renewal of passport,” he said in a statement, today.
Ramasamy’s response came after Saifuddin defended an Immigration Department staff who questioned the proficiency of a woman in Bahasa Malaysia while renewing a passport at UTC Johor.
Saifuddin said the officer’s actions were likely taken due to suspicions about the individual’s citizenship status when they were not proficient in Bahasa Malaysia.
Following this, Ramasamy added that Saifuddin’s reaction was the ‘worst’ part of the incident as he was quick on the draw to defend the immigration officer for doing the right thing.
“Two wrongs don’t make it right. The immigration officer scolded the woman for not knowing Malay and for the unnecessary defence of the officer by none other than high-level cabinet minister, Saifuddin.
“Obviously, the officer was not well versed in the law regarding procedures for passport renewals. He was just an overzealous little Napoleon who took the law into his own hands.”
Following this, he called out for Saifuddin to apologise and that the Immigration Department would look into the incident to reprimand the officer.
“The requirement for proficiency in Malay comes at the beginning stage of the citizenship application and not after.
“The woman who applied for the passport renewal could have lost touch with Malay for various reasons. She could have been overseas with her children or relatives.
“However, the point is that there is no language requirement for the renewal of a passport.
“(Hence,) I hope that Saifuddin would have the responsibility and good sense to apologise to the affected woman and to the public.”
Recently, a woman went viral on social media for sharing her experience of renewing a passport at UTC Johor.
She claimed to have been ridiculed by a male staff member at the Immigration Office because of her lack of proficiency in the Malay language when renewing her daughter’s passport.
Source: New Straits Times