At The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (Part 2)

When I planned to visit Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia, for second time, I thought, this is the time I should go to Singapore as well. Come on, Nelda, why haven’t you been to Singapore? Everybody else has.

Who would have thought I would spend my first moment I stepped into the country, at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority office?

Seeing me crying, the Malay officer approached me and asked if I was crying because of the interview. I didn’t intend to answer the question. I just said: ‘I feel like going home’. And sobbing again.

Really. At that time, all I thought was just to run away to Changi airport and catch the flight back to Jakarta. By the way, I didn’t make it clear when during the day or night time this happened. My bus departed from KL sometime before 5pm. I expected to arrive at the destination in Singapore around 10.30pm. But after the passport check in Johor Baru, Malaysia, I missed my bus, so I took local bus to get to the checkpoint. I didn’t really check the time. I guessed it was sometime before midnight.

The officers at the ICA office treated me in a good manner. I have no complaint about it whatsoever. But the feeling that I was at an immigration office, which means there might be something, made me uneasy. However, I was pretty calm. Apart from the crying.

Other Chinese looking officer came to me and asked me a few questions regarding my passport. My passport was made in Indonesian Embassy in Oslo, Norway. He wanted to confirm it. He told me, something that made my process longer was that my passport couldn’t be read. I was like…damn! What the heck. I told him that it happened before. He left to be back to his seat and continue with the process.

Okay, I tell you this. My passport was made in 2013. Last year, 2016, when I was about to depart to London from Trondheim, Norway, I was stuck at the passport check for a while. That was the first time the officer told me that my passpot couldn’t be read. He turned the pages in the passport with many stamps wondering what actually happened. After about 20 minutes, he let me in. I called somebody at the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo immediately afterward. She told me that it might happen to Indonesian passport. Scary, eh? I was pretty sure I asked if I should make a new passport. I think she said I didn’t have to. So it happened again when I arrived in London. But they let me in too.

So I completely forgot about it.

And now. I was in Singapore just because I had never been there before, so why the hell not, but instead, in the middle of the night, when I thought I would just arrive at my hostel and could go to sleep, I was still sitting at the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore.

The Chinese looking officer asked me to come forward again, wondered what I did in Norway. I just answered what he asked, not more or less. A moment later from behind the computer he said something like ‘Welcome to Singapore’. I wasn’t amused, I am sorry. It was just the sign that my process was nearly ending.

So it was finished. Two officers accompanied me to go out.

Then I was really out of the immigration office.

It was after midnight. I had no idea where exactly in Singapore I was. I wouldn’t bother to take the bus to find out the way to my hostel. Oh well, there was no more bus anyway at those wee hours. I got 35 Singapore Dollars from my friend. So I took taxi. When the driver found out I was from Indonesia, we spoke Malay to each other. Later I found out that the checkpoint was in Woodlands. I stayed in a hostel in Bugis/Kampong Glam. I managed to see the time when I arrived at the hostel. It was 2am.

You might think it was over and now just enjoy the time?

Unfortunately not. 😦

Thinking about what had just happened stressed me out. I don’t think I had problem with food when I was in Malaysia. I just had some snacks during my bus trip from KL. So it might be the combination of the midnight wind and stress, in the morning I started to have diarrhea.

On March 22, the day after I arrived back in Jakarta, I wrote to Indonesian Embassy in Oslo to tell them what happened. When I post this blog, I still haven’t received any response from them. I’ll edit if I have. UPDATE: On March 31, I re-sent my e-mail to the Indonesian Embassy and I got response from them on the same day. They admitted that they got complaints regarding this matter from other Indonesians and therefore suggested me to make a new passport.

This incident made me not interested anymore to explore. There was a thought that I should just take new flight to go back home, but I tried to calm myself down, said to myself that I could survive until the next day. The emotional part of me wanted me just to lay down the whole day until it was time to go to Changi.

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2 thoughts on “At The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (Part 2)

  1. My previous passport couldn’t be read as well in Singapore. There’s something with their machine. So every time I had to pass Singapore, they always asked me to go to their office to have my passport scanned manually or something (had to leave the queue). So it’s nothing new, and mine is also embassy-made. I had no problem entering other countries: Japan, USA, just only Singapore. So it’s their machine, not your passport.

    As for the interview, is it because you were wearing hijab? Sorry if I’m wrong, I think I have seen your picture somewhere and saw you were wearing one. It’s unfortunate that there are many Indonesian migrants (living / working illegally in Singapore) that caused this problem for all of us.

    • It happened first time when I was in Trondheim, my passport couldn’t be read. And as well in Gatwick. I got response from the Indonesian Embassy in Oslo today and they received complaints regarding the same matter from other Indonesians and therefore suggested me to make a new passport.

      Yes, the unfornate thing was that I entered Singapore overland from Malaysia, as an Indonesian female, wearing hijab, first time to Singapore, oh well… I realised from the questions what kind of problems they have caused.

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