sometimes even free.
Two Singaporean women were detained and
ordered a strip search by Malaysian authorities.
Malaysia's Home Ministry has yet to receive any official report on the alleged mistreatment of two Singaporeans by immigration officers at the Johor Bahru customs checkpoint last week.
As such, Home Ministry Secretary-General Mahmud Ahmad declined to comment on the matter, according to Malaysian paper Sin Chew Daily.
However the case -- which saw two Singaporean ladies being strip-searched and ordered to do squats in the nude while being detained -- has sparked widespread outrage among Singaporean netizens.
Since it was first posted late on Tuesday evening, the story has been shared on Facebook over 3,000 times and drawn over 700 comments.
Some have called for a boycott of shops in Johor Bahru while others called for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch a proper investigation into the alleged abuse.
Yahoo! Fit-to-Post reader SH commented, "As consumers and tourists, we should vote with our pockets, boycott poor service shops and countries which do not appreciate our tourism dollars."
Another reader Koh wrote, "Is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs doing something about this ? This is a common trick of Malaysian Immigration to extort money from Singaporeans. Why do we need to go to JB to save money. Patronize a country that obviously do not welcome you?"
Yet others questioned why the two ladies ventured up to Johor Bahru for supper at such a late hour.
Reader Patriot wrote, "1.30am going to JB for supper just two ladies ? Must be out of your mind right? Singapore got so many night haunts for supper and yet you choose JB."
The two Singaporeans in question were reportedly detained by Malaysian law enforcement officers in Johor Bahru early last Thursday morning after they were accused of enteringMalaysia illegally.
The pair were also ordered to strip and do squats with their hands on their ears for 10 times when they were sent to a detention centre.
The ordeal happened when Lim Lili and Zhan Tingting (not their real names) drove across the Causeway for supper at about 1:30am. When they reached the Malaysian customs checkpoint, both women inadvertently did not get their passports stamped.
According to Lianhe Zaobao, Lim said she had entered a lane that displayed a green light which signalled that the lane was in operation.
Lim recalled seeing that the lane had no immigration officer at the counter and it was at this point that they didn't get their passports stamped. Zhan then alighted to purchase a "Touch N Go" prepaid card to pay for their entry into Malaysia.
As it was their first time experiencing the new biometric scanner at the counter, Lim used the intercom and tried to ask another officer for help. Both waited at the counter for five minutes before they decided to move on as Lim thought that there would be another counter for them to scan their fingers.
But instead, they drove into Johor Bahru without getting their passports stamped and fingerprints scanned. Realising something was wrong, Lim drove her car back to the customs to obtain an entry chop for their passports.
However, when reached the customs at 2am, they were accused of entering Malaysia illegally and questioned by Malaysian law enforcement officers.
"When my statement was taken, both of us tried to explain ourselves and requested for them to check with Singapore's immigration department to check their departure timings and CCTV footage to clarify that once we knew there was a mistake, we quickly turned back," said Zhan.
The officers then curtly informed them of the offence and punishment, emphasising the RM10,000 (S$4,069) and jail term.
Both women were detained in a room until 5pm on 10 June and were only allowed to make a phone call each.
One of them called a friend while the other spoke to her brother, who contacted the Singapore High Commission in Malaysia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"Somebody with a higher rank came and started speaking to us in Malay. A translator told us if we were willing to accept a fine of RM3,000 (S$1,220) to resolve the situation," said Zhan.
"And because we were so tired, we agreed to pay the fine and we signed an agreement that was in Malay," Zhan added.
Officers led the two women to an ATM machine to withdraw cash to pay the fine. But the women received another shock when the officers suddenly said that they will be sent to a detention centre in Pontian district and will be detained for up to 14 days.
Lim then asked the officers, "I thought we already settled the case?"
They were later handcuffed and sent to the women's division at the detention centre. Lim and Zhan met a female officer who ordered a strip search. Both women were made to strip and do squats with their hands on their ears for 10 times before they were allowed to change into their prison uniforms.
Zhan said: "The place was dirty and smelly, the roach-infested room was two-thirds of the basketball court, no bed, four wooden walls, with 50 people in it."
"We were treated like criminals even before we were pronounced guilty, it was humiliating. Most of the detainees were Filipinos and Indonesians without passports. We were the only Singaporeans."
After a night in the centre, the officers woke them up at 5am to do the Islamic morning prayers.
She said in the span of 24 hours, besides eating and praying, we were stuck in the room. When it was time to eat, we did not have forks and spoons and ate with our hands. We did not dare to finish eating, but the rest of the detainees told us to finish because if we did not, the officers will punish us."