21st May 2010 11am
I had to renew my passport and while I’m often appreciative of Singapore/Singaporean’s efficiency in many things, I finally discovered the most inefficient place in Singapore. Thank god I only have to come here once every 10 years – the ICA. After you filled up a form, wrote a cheque, got your picture taken, you imagine that you could just stroll in at the ICA and pick up your passport in a matter of seconds. Firstly, my photo got rejected because about 0.5cm of my eyebrows was “covered” by my fringe. Mind you, I did take extra care in gluing my fringe to the side when I took the photo, knowing that the all the facial features should be “fully revealed”. Anyway, I had to retake my photo, send it down personally and wait for my turn to get the passport fixed. After waiting for an hour, which I was told, I was still about 100 person behind in Q-number. I came back the next day and I had to take another Q-number which puts me at about 300 persons behind the current Q-number. The waiting hall is filled with bored people who are resigned at having to spend the whole afternoon staring at the electronic Q-number board (wondering if they have a name for that). So thank god I have my laptop, as I am writing here and after having spent an hour sitting and waiting, I am still about 100 persons behind – just to pick up my passport!! I feel more like an immigrant waiting for an interview or something. Couldn’t they make the collection more efficient? More counters? More manpower? Better computer system? Surely there is something they can do about this right?
My friend from Malaysia, who once had to go back to JB to renew her passport, reached there, and walked into a dim room with few people, at first thrilled thinking she doesn’t have to Q-up, she went up to the Q-less counter and the girl behind said, “no electricity.” As she needed to travel soon, and really wanted to get her passport fixed, she asked the girl what could she do. “Go KL.” Desperate, she drove up to KL from JB and she Q-ed for hours waiting for her turn, and finally when it was her, she happily went up to the counter and explained the urgency of her passport and the girl behind the counter replied, ”Passport out of stock.”
Maybe I am in a more fortunate position, but still, right now, I am about 70 persons behind. Sigh.