Those planning to work abroad have been left frustrated following delays in the issuance of travel passes by the Immigration Department.
Known as MyTravelPass, applicants planning to leave the country for work are forced to wait 14 working days for their applications to be approved.
However, the wait has been longer for Samsularifin Ishak, 45, who has yet to obtain any information regarding his request to fly to Fiji for a project, which was made on Sept 4.
The test engineer involved in submarine fibre optics could lose his job due to the delays. This has left him anxious and frustrated.
“I was in fact supposed to go to Fiji in May, but the trip was cancelled after the Fiji government closed its borders. I managed to apply via MyTravelPass and was given a 90-day pass,” said Samsularifin.
“As the pass expired on Aug 27, I was told to apply for a new one. After getting a new contract from my employers on Sept 3, I proceeded to apply for a travel pass the next day.”
Samsularifin said there were only two flights to the island nation in a month, via Los Angeles.
“My employers had booked a flight for me on Sept 21. On Sept 18, I reached out via the MyTravelPass online enquiry system to find out about the status of my application. The reply I got was: ‘Your MyTravelPass application will be process (sic) as soon as possible depending on the current situation’.”
Samsularifin missed his flight on Sept 21.
Sept 23 was exactly 14 working days since he submitted his application. Earlier today, he made another enquiry via the online system and was taken aback by the reply.
“I explained that my application status was still ‘in progress’ and that it was important for me to get the pass in time for the next flight, scheduled for Oct 5, as my trip to Fiji was for work and that I would be paid for it.
“The reply I got shocked me. I was told ‘You agreed to the terms and conditions on the MyTravelPass page before submitting your application. Please obey and be patient’.”
Samsularifin said the reply also stated that “the application process would take around 14 WORKING DAYS or more, depending on the number of applications received that day.”
“There are no phone numbers or email addresses. I can only ask via this system. I just want to work. If I miss this job, there will be nothing for me till next year,” he added.
In February, he left for Nigeria for a two-month stint there. He has not been able to secure any projects since, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and closed borders.
The father of four, aged between nine and 15, is the family’s sole breadwinner.
Efforts to get Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud and the department itself throughout the day proved futile.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, on Wednesday, said the party had received numerous complaints on the bureaucratic red tape in the ‘MyTravelPass’ applications, as well as the rather arbitrary process in approving submissions.
“Many have had to endure the stress, anxiety and uncertainty of rescheduling trips, or worse, bearing unnecessary travel expenses as a result of the application process,” said Pua, who is also the Damansara MP.
He added the Immigration Department should scrap the MyTravelPass scheme entirely as it has outlived its usefulness.