Thursday, June 16, 2011

Finger scans: Call in JB to exempt Singaporeans

A long queue of vehicles waiting to clear Malaysian immigration last Sunday. The country's new biometric system requires scanning of a traveller's two index fingers, adding to the time to clear immigration. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - TWO associations representing businesses in Johor have urged the Malaysian government to exempt Singaporeans from the biometric screening system, after suffering losses from the recent congestion.
The two organisations, representing Chinese and Indian businesses, plan to send a memorandum soon to Johor Menteri Besar Ghani Othman and the Home Ministry to plead their case.

According to the president of Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Loh Liam Hiang, the jams caused at the entry points by the fingerprinting of every visitor had begun to deter Singaporeans from visiting the state.

'They just turn back when they see the queue, especially during the weekends or holidays which see congestion even without the new biometric system,' he said.

Many of Johor Baru's businesses, he noted, depend on Singaporeans, especially the weekend day-trippers who cross over to visit restaurants, food courts, shops and entertainment centres. According to complaints received by the association, business has fallen by 30 per cent to 50 per cent in some shops since the biometric system started on June 1.

Mr Loh added that it would also inconvenience Singaporeans who travel frequently to their factories in Johor. His concerns were borne out by several Singaporeans interviewed by The Straits Times.

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