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Competitiveness: Are we slacking?

Competitiveness: Are we slacking?

Outdated passport checks for foreigners that took longer than flying in from across the causeway
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 09:00:00

TRAVELLERS have always known one secret: the pace at which you clear Immigration at an airport and collect your luggage from the carousel would normally reflect the country’s ‘software’ capability.

A recent business trip to Kuala Lumpur from Singapore, where I work, shocked me over how far Malaysia had fallen in standards even behind those of, say, an airport in India five years ago.

On this flight, I was with a colleague from the republic who had to go through the international passport processing queue.

It took me just two minutes to clear the auto-gate system. I then stood waiting, killing time by clearing my emails for a good 40 minutes with no sign of my co-worker.

I then asked a senior Immigration officer on duty and told him that clearing 200 or so passengers should not take this long, and it would give Malaysia a bad image.

He agreed with me but said he had recommended an alternative queuing approach but it was rejected by his superiors. He told me they were trying their best and understood the repercussions to the country’s image.

The officer even asked that I write in as a concerned citizen. My colleague eventually appeared one hour 15 minutes after I had cleared Immigration.

I could not help feeling totally embarrassed for the country for several reasons.

For a start, the rest of the world has moved on, and we are not only stuck in time, but appear to have taken a few steps backwards, in terms of know-how.

On top of this, there appears to be no care or concern by those with clout within the department as there is probably no ‘walking the grounds’ to assess what is going on. As for the rest of the top officials, I guess they were ushered through the airport and never really experienced these situations.

Lastly, there appears to be no retention of knowledge and learning; an established airport would deal with these things through the years, and would know what works and what does not.

All that is needed is to tweak the processes as part of a continuous improvement programme.

The conclusion to most international travellers is that Malaysia has all the modern trappings and  infrastructure but with a Third World mentality or know-how.

All the good efforts are wasted if we do not start to address these serious problems that are eroding the nation’s ability to compete.

Back to my airport adventure. It took about an hour to reach the city for our meeting. The total travel time from Singapore to my appointment’s rendezvous in KL took slightly over 4.5 hours.

I could have just driven from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur in that time. It also took longer to clear Immigration than the 50-minute flight from Singapore to KL.

Yun See
A Malaysian working in Singapore

http://www.mmail.com.my/content/47143-competitiveness-are-we-slacking

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