BACKPACKER VS IMMIGRATION OFFICERS
The male backpacker was from the Philippines and he arrived in Malaysia on 29 August 2017. His entry was in KLIA. After spending seven (7) days in Kuala Lumpur, he moved to Penang Island where he served as help exchange volunteer in a guesthouse for three consecutive weeks. On 28 September 2017, he took a shared van from Georgetown going to Hat Yai in Thailand. At the Malaysian border, he was held by the immigration officers for questioning.
It was about half past three in the afternoon and there were only a few people in the queue at the Immigration Checkpoint. I waited just about five minutes for my turn. I said “hello” to the lady officer and handed her my passport. She scanned it, looked at me squarely in the eye, and said, “you proceed to the office!”
I was alarmed, nearly panicky. It was the first time it happened after being in and out of Malaysia for several times in two years. I examined the last entry stamp without any clue what was wrong with it. At the office, I greeted three uniformed personnel behind the counter and told them that I was instructed to go there.
Just the same, one looked at the stamp, made an unhappy face, then told me the bad news, “you overstayed for one day.”
“How can I be overstaying, I arrived on the 29th of August, I still have until tomorrow for my 30-day allowable stay.”
The officer, who appeared to be in his late 50s, said, “you arrived August 29, August has 31 days,” putting a stress on the date, “yesterday was your 30th day!”
I was still confused. Granted, I miscounted the number of days in August but my 30 day period would only expire after today. How do these men count periods? Isn’t it first day excluded, last day included?
He stamped my passport nonetheless, put remarks on it, then explained, “you cannot return to Malaysia unless you go back to the Philippines for at least one month.”
I was relieved to be out of the office but the handwritten note beside the exit stamp caused more questioning at the Thailand border.
I truly dislike immigration officers; they make hard the life of backpackers!
MY Exit Stamp
Whether or not the Malaysian Immigration Officers erred in declaring the Backpacker to have overstayed for one day.
Pronouncements by Immigration Officers as regards the validity of a visa, permit to stay, travel documents or any other relevant matters cannot be doubted. They are experts in the implementation of immigration laws, rules and regulations in their respective country. Some duties are intricate and they efficiently discharge those on a regular basis, let alone the trivial task of counting days. Based on the narration, there were four officers, one at the counter and three at the office. Four officers cannot collectively make a mistake. Clear as the Philippine sky on a sunny day, the concerned backpacker overstayed in Malaysia for one gloomy day.
He may be right to invoke the established doctrine in counting periods, that is, “the first day excluded, last day included,” but this is not universal in application. This is only true in some jurisdictions. In most countries, however, the period of stay begins on the date stamped on the passport. If the date of entry is 28 September 2017 for instance, that is the day 1, not day 0. The last day of the 30-day period is 27 October 2017 and the foreigner need to leave on or before the latter date.
You learned your lesson Backpacker!
The magistrate who rendered the ruling in the instant case used to maintain a blog, THE INKY RITUAL, in WordPress.
DISCLAIMER: We only tackle actual incidents but the rulings are merely personal opinions. They are not legally binding. Some may even be logically blinding.
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