Last weekend, travelers going between Singapore and Malaysia had to wait up to seven hours to pass through the Johor-Singapore checkpoints. The delays were caused by a new fingerprint scanning system launched last week, aimed at curbing crime and terrorism, as well as tracking foreign workers.
But the system's launch coincided with a Malaysian public holiday and school holidays in both countries.
Report: Home Ministry identify ways to smoothen traffic flow at entry points [Bernama, 6 June 2011]
Yesterday, Home Ministry Secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam announced measures to solve the problem. Frequent travelers registered with the Malaysian government will only need to have their fingerprints taken once. More immigration officers will be deployed, and checkpoints will be renovated for quicker access.
Report: Biometric system 'will be fixed' [New Straits Times, 6 June 2011]
In an earlier statement on Sunday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein stressed that the system was very important for Malaysia's national security, and any travel disruptions will only be temporary.
He said the system was implemented to help reduce cross-border illegal activities, including drug and human trafficking, money laundering and terrorism. The system will also help Malaysia compile data on illegal workers, helping authorities identify and deport them.
Report: KL promises to speed up checkpoint clearance [Straits Times, 7 June 2011]
But Johor assemblyman Dr. Boo Cheng Hau, a member of the opposition, noted illegal immigrants rarely pass through checkpoints in the first place, as they are smuggled into Malaysia instead.
"We need better enforcement, and better security along the coastline," Dr. Boo said.
Report: Malaysia to fully implement biometric system by end of June [Bernama, 6 June 2011]
Malaysia is expected to fully implement the new biometric system at all border entry points by the end of this month.
In the past few years, several countries have implemented similar fingerprint systems to track and identify visitors, including Japan, Brazil, and the United States. South Korea plans to begin fingerprinting foreigners next year, while the European Union will begin the process in 2015.