Monday, June 13, 2011
They were ordered to strip by Malaysian customs
TWO Singaporean women who drove into Johor Baru were detained by Malaysian customs, stripped, and made to squat and stand while pulling their ears.
They were detained for 24 hours for "illegal entry" as their passports were not stamped at the Malaysian customs, reported Shin Min Daily News.
The incident occurred last Thursday (June 9) when property agent Ms Lim, 29, went to Changi Airport to pick up a friend, insurance agent Ms Zhan, 39, who was returning from a holiday in Hong Kong.
They then decided to drive to Johor Baru for supper at around 1.30am.
Ms Lim told Shin Min Daily News that she drove into Lane 2 and realised that there was no customs officer on duty. She attempted to use the intercom service to ask if there was anyone, but according to her, it was too noisy and she was not able to make out if anyone had replied her.
After five minutes, she decided to use the Touch n Go system to enter into Malaysia. The Touch n Go system is a smart card used at Malaysian highway tolls and can be used to enter the country if travelling from Singapore.
The two noticed that there was no one attending to the fingerprinting scanning system and therefore, were not able to get their passports stamped and checked before entering Johor Baru.
"I immediately made a U-turn towards the Malaysian checkpoint to find an officer to stamp our passports and that was when we were accused of illegal entry.
"We were interrogated by customs officers around 3am and were detained for up to 15 hours.
"We were handcuffed and around 6pm the next day, we were taken to a detention centre in Pontian," said Ms Zhan.
Upon arriving at the detention centre, the two told Shin Min Daily News that they were ordered by a Malay correction officer to take off their clothes and said that this was "normal procedure".
Ms Zhan also said that Ms Lim was given a smelly and old T-shirt to wear while the other detainees wore their own clothes.
She told the Chinese evening daily that the two of them were made to squat and stand while pulling their ears.
They were allowed to wear their clothes only after they had finished ten squats.
Ms Zhan said that they were locked up in a cell that was about two-thirds the size of a football field. There were about 50 other detainees in the same cell and were mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines; the two women were the only ones from Singapore.
When Ms Zhan asked for a new sanitary pad from one of the detention officers, some of the detainees told her that she will have to use soap and water to wash her soiled pad before disposing it, or else she will be reprimanded by the officers.
She said the toilet was filthy and the stench filled the entire cell, and as the toilet did not have a door, a cloth was used instead, but only covered up to her eyes.
They were also told by their cellmates that they would be punished if they did not finish their food and will be made to stand for an hour if they spoke too loudly.
"There was no mattress or pillow in the cell, so we slept on the floor with bugs and cockroaches," said Ms Zhan.
The two were released the following Saturday at 6am with warning letters. They were not charged or penalised.
While they were getting their passports stamped on their way back to Singapore, they were told that they will not be able to enter Malaysia easily after this incident.
It was the first time the two had driven to Malaysia. They told Shin Min Daily News that although they were at fault, they did not understand why they were treated like prisoners.
They also said that they intend to seek a legal help and demand for compensation for their traumatic experience in Malaysia.