Adventure in Canberra

Y.W.Loke emailed me:

Regarding “Malaysian consulate service a letdown”, which “Disappointed Malaysian” sent to you as well as to Malaysiakini, there was another letter to M’kini [copied below] which described an entirely different experience involving the consulate in Canberra, and in particular, Mr Haa.

Perhaps you may want to include that letter in your blog posting to offer another viewpoint for your readers to consider.

LETTERS: Adventure in Canberra

CL Yee Sep 19, 07 4:58pm

I refer to the Malaysiakini letter Malaysian consulate service a letdown. I share similar feelings as the writer about the inefficiency of their service generally. However, I had a different experience in dealing with Mr Haa, as I would refer to him.

I was a Malaysian student living in South Australia when I had my first personal encounter with the Malaysian consulate in Canberra to which I had to go to have my expired Malaysian passport renewed. Prior to coming to the office in person, I have made several telephone calls to the office.

A lot of the times, the calls went unanswered. When they did get through, I found myself talking to a female staff who was in my view was rude. Her English also left a lot to be desired. She boldly told me to come into the office in person and hung up.

Before that she gave me a list of all the documents I needed to have with me, or so I thought. I made an appointment for 9am the following Wednesday and was warned that the passport renewal could only be done between 9am to 10am. Unbelievable, isn’t it?

I flew in that day and was shocked when Mr Haa, who attended to me, said I needed a Proof of Residency certificate from the Australian Immigration to show that I was not at the time an Australian citizen. I told him my situation – I had just flown in and being my first time in Canberra, I did not know the place and that I needed my passport the same day because I was flying back to Adelaide that evening.

He then provided me with directions and assured me he would still process my application even if it was after 10am when I got the certificate. I had an opportunity to chat with him when I returned with the certificate. Turned out that he was originally Vietnamese, now an Australian and had been working for the Malaysian consulate for over 14 (or was it 20?) years.

Mr Haa told me to return at 4pm to collect my passport so off I went visiting the city, its university campus and the museum. Just before I left, I met another Malaysian lady from Melbourne who had lost her passport and had been left without one for three years. The consulate staff had not been helpful until she sought help from her employer who knew which strings to pull before the consulate promised that when she came in for second time, her passport would be ready.

Anyway, I called a cab at 3pm and waited until about 4.30pm before realising it would never turn up. I was in the most panicky situation I ever had in my life. It did not help that there was no one nearby. It did not help that my mobile phone battery went flat. I felt like crying.

Out of nowhere, I saw an elderly Australian couple walking towards their car and I asked them if they could give me a ride to the consulate. They shoved me into the passenger seat and later told me that taxis are most unreliable on a Wednesday afternoon because of the Parliament sittings. They refused to accept a fare and quickly drove off to pick up their grandchildren from school.

I arrived at the consulate at 5pm when Mr Haa was about the close the door. I related that I was going to be late for my flight if I could not get a taxi. He passed me my new passport and rushed me to the nearest taxi range in his car. It was an act of kindness totally beyond his line of duty.

I was, nevertheless, late for my flight and missed it. It happened that the Malaysian lady I met earlier at the consulate had also missed her flight. She offered to pay for my accommodation for the night as I could not afford to. I declined the invitation as I needed to be at the airport at 4.30am. Concerned about my safety, she decided to stay at the airport with me.

For the first time in my life, I slept on the street (the airport has to be vacated by 10pm) on a cold, rainy, autumn night. It was indeed a trip I would never forget. That day, three complete strangers touched my heart.

  1. #1 by W.O or Wilson on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 7:51 am

    I had the exact opposite experience with the Malaysian Consulate in Canberra. The people on the phone were rude, abrasive, and as diplomats in a Western-society, spoke appalling English.

    My housemate’s expired passport took 11 months to be renewed – because they had LOST it when he had gone in person to hand it to them.

    As Malaysian citizens in Australia, even though we hold residency, for many people, our passport is our official identification. Those 11 months caused him unimaginable inconvenience, from the day to day banking, applying for loans to lost employment oppotunities (because he had no official documentation).

    It is extremely disheartening to see that the inefficiency and complacency that plagues Malaysia has been ‘exported’ overseas. It is a disgrace that we’re being represented in Australia by people with no integrity, lack of social graces, and quite plainly, incompetent.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 8:01 am

    Mr Haa-hah-hoh was originally Vietnamese, now an Australian and is extracting his revenge on Malaysia for its brutal treatment of turning away Viet boat people from its shores in the late 1970s

  3. #3 by undergrad2 on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 8:36 am

    A Vietnamese and a naturalized Australian citizen working for the Malaysian Consulate?? Can’t they find a Malaysian who is a naturalized Australian citizen or a PR to work. Working for the Consulate requires some kind of security clearance. How did this former VC get to work for our Consulate?

    It does not pass the smell test.

  4. #4 by cherasusie on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 9:21 am

    sound patriotic.

    but when you have found a malaysian who is a naturalized oz citizen, you would then look at his skin…….hai, malaysian, malaysian.

    please listen to deng xiao peng, white cat black cat, as long as it catches mice it is a good cat.

    nissan uses a white guy to run its failed motor industry, with a bit of ‘pride’ lost but the company has since back on its feet!!!!

    of course we don’t get a foreign pm to run our country but we do have brains, don’t we, no matter how small.

    please don’t look for excuses and excuses, we are a truely asia rotting country.

    for now, we still can compare ourselves with singapore but i hope we don’t see ourselves comparing to afghans or the bangladesh, few years down the line.

    having said that, who knows, these countries i mentioned may, and would feel ashame to be compared with malaysian…….few years down the line.

    cheers all!

  5. #5 by W.O or Wilson on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 9:32 am

    undergrad2 Says:
    September 21st, 2007 at 08: 36.47

    Exactly right. Why is an Australian citizen working for the Malaysian Consulate, esp in such a key role? Shouldn’t there be a government initiative to encourage Malaysians in Australia to be work for and be partners of the consulate…esp Malaysians who have worked WITH the Australian government and know them inside out?

    I suppose it’s wishful thinking on my part…:)

  6. #6 by madmix on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 10:16 am

    Malaysian government servants are the same whether they are clerks in JKR or a high commissioner. Service last.

  7. #7 by Pocket on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 10:22 am

    When I was in Perth pursing my studies many years ago I also encountered similar unpleasant situation.
    My passport was expired and I had to sent my passport to Canberra for extension. It took them more than 1 month just to put a stamp and chop for my extension, even though I had called them almost every week just to ensure 1st they received my passport; 2nd they processed my extension; and lastly they couriered out my passport.
    Even with this, I still don’t get my passport on their 1st registered post, my passport was return to them (lucky was in Australia, if is in Malaysia, my passport will be gone by then) and they have to re-sent my passport when I called up to check the status of my passport.
    Finally, after more than 6 weeks, I finally got my passport just right before I’m coming back to Malaysia!

  8. #8 by Audrey on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 10:50 am

    Let me relate my experience. My bag was stolen when I was residing in Sydney and with it my myKAD was lost. I reported the matter to the police and have a police report to show for it.

    When my passport expired, I went to the Sydney Consulate office to renew my passport but because I did not have my MYKAD they weren’t sure if my passport would be renewed although the police report was attached. Anyway, they said the documents will be accepted and with it the renewal fees.

    After 6 months or more, there was no sign of my passport and I called up the consulate in Canberra. The phone was ringing off the hook and you will need to call a few times in order to get to the person in charged. Anyway, they told me to call Immigration in KL directly and that’s what I did. When I called, my application was already processed for quite some time and the renewal was rejected and sitting in someone’s tray but they did not take the trouble to inform me of the status of my application. So, my advice to the Malaysian in Melbourne? Do not rely on the Consulate or the Immigration in KL to let you know of the status of your application. You will have to call KL every other month to ask about the status yourself.

    Anyway, I went back to KL on an emergency travel document since my passport was not renewed. I applied for a new myKAD in KL and with it went to the Immigration to get my renewal done. After 2 weeks or so, a lady called me up and said that my passport has been renewed and to bring along the few hundred ringgit to collect it. That was when I started questioning why I have to make another payment when I had already paid the govt when I submitted my application in Australia. I would have thought that my payment would have already gone to the Immigration when my application was sent back for processing. Otherwise, Canberra should have automatically reimbursed me, shouldn’t they when my application was rejected? Anyway, her boss then told me to go to the Immigration office to see him and I did.

    When I was there he asked me whether I wanted my passport and that he “tak suka” about my questioning attitude after they had helped me to get my document renewed. Suffice to say that I paid up a second time as it would be useless to expect these people to call up the Consulate in Canberra and see how they could sort out the payment among themselves. Imagine if I had been on a shoe-string budget and could only afford one payment? Anyway, I then have to go through the hassle and re-claim my money from Canberra all the way from KL.

    So, for the person in Melbourne, be prepared for a rough ride.

  9. #9 by lupus on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 10:53 am

    I have given up on getting any help from the Malaysian mission in Australia. I will just let them enjoy their tax funded holidays, after all, we are not VVIP…..

  10. #10 by achia3 on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 11:23 am

    It is most unfortunate that so many of you face difficulty with the consulate. When I moved here initially, I too face some difficulty as well. Too my surprise it took 4mths to process a passport and another 4 mths to get police clearance for my PR application. My brother went back to KL for the police clearance and he got it in 1.5mths. Well! Initially I was swearing and cursing but later I just learn to adjust. The Perth consulate, like I mentioned before, are top class. Their service is second to none. However, they are constraint by the protocol that is already put in place by the Gov in Malaysia. It all started with the public sector in Malaysia. So get the Gov fixed, the public service will be fixed. If you have the same government in power, don’t expect to much of a change as to the BN gov, taking power again in the next GE is almost a given. The only hope I can see is our Rulers remove and jail all those who has plundered the nation.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 11:28 am

    The Devil at play—- Something very rotten in the state of Penang
    …why couldn’t the Penang state government buy the land, rezone it, and then sell the land at a much higher value – and use the windfall profit for the benefit of the people of Penang? Or better still, buy the land, maintain the zoning as open space and turn the land into a Penang State Park as a legacy for future generations of Penangites….

    …why did the Penang Turf Club sell its land at only RM43 per sq foot? And why did it agree to move in the first place when it was sitting on valuable prime land? Who or what really persuaded the members to sell the land at that bargain price?

  12. #12 by Taikor on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 1:20 pm

    I don’t know how he got hired. This Mr. Hard One (coined by sheriff singh) has got to be sacked! Or was he expecting for some “lubricants” to grease his palms to get to work??

  13. #13 by lupus on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 1:45 pm

    For all that are thinking about voting in the next Malaysian GE, beware that as an ordinary Malaysian living oversea, you CANNOT vote!!!

    The only people whom are allowed to vote while living overseas are Malaysian citizens who are send by the Malaysian Govt. ie, scholarship holders, embassy staff who are Malaysian, etc, etc


  14. #14 by verbal-lash on Friday, 21 September 2007 - 11:06 pm

    Good that Lupus brought up about voting rights. I am one of those in a dilemma. I have voted 3 elections ago and I voted for the opposition even then. the last two elections found my name not registered as a voter. In both instances, I was at the registration tent on voting day itself to make a hue and cry as to why my names were not there, and the personnel were there to “rectify” assuring me that my name would be in the next election eventhough I missed out this time.

    To ensure I am registered for this coming GE, I went through MCA to register. I filled out a form. That was several months ago. Thinking that this time my name should be in, I went online two weeks ago to check and guess what (again I am not surprised at the abject inefficiency), my name was still not registered. I sent a nasty email to SPR and they replied and asked me to register personally at their office to be on the safe said. This I did, only to be told that it would take 3 MONTHS to get my name officially registered, and even this is subject to having my name displayed for a period of time at SPR to ensure that there is no “bantahan” or objections to my being a voter. What nonsense is this?! Seems to me that I am not very welcome as a voter. They probably had records that I am not a BN lover and so struck me off the list for good.

    By the way, just to caution fellow bloggers who do not love BN, do check to ensure that the names of your dead loved ones are not on the list at the next GE. My father who has been dead for the last 30 years is still listed as a voter. There is no knowing if he will become one of the phantom voters in favour of BN! Each time I have asked for his name to be deleted only to find his name re-surface again at subsequent elections. They did not expect me to be so sharp to notice, I guess. Perhaps this is why they have always been winning hands down – too much dirty tricks!

  15. #15 by undergrad2 on Saturday, 22 September 2007 - 12:15 am

    “To my surprise it took 4mths to process a passport ..” achia3

    It only took me about ten days in my case to have a new passport issued since the old one has expired. In fact the Consulate in New York stipulates in writing that it should be ready by then. It was even mailed to me by express mail.

  16. #16 by midnitelily on Saturday, 22 September 2007 - 12:48 am

    “Too my surprise it took 4mths to process a passport and another 4 mths to get police clearance for my PR application. My brother went back to KL for the police clearance and he got it in 1.5mths.”

    achia3 — it took me 2 weeks to get my police clearance done in July’07.

  17. #17 by pamelaoda on Sunday, 23 September 2007 - 11:45 am

    Tks for reminding Lupus, but could anyone here know about the voting right? My friend asked me, he did not registered at all to vote after reaching 21yrs old and now he is in his 40s and wanted to do so, can he?

  18. #18 by W.O or Wilson on Monday, 24 September 2007 - 8:16 am

    midnitelily Says:

    September 22nd, 2007 at 00: 48.48

    It took me 3 months to get my police clearance. Know why? After 6 weeks, I happily ripped open the envelope from Malaysia…only to see that they had spelled my name wrong. DAMN! And it took another 6 weeks for them to send me a new one, even though they had cleared me before.

    Efficient ain’t it?

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