I am celebrating because I have just managed to beat the system. Yes, I have disconnected one of my two telephone lines. It's a miracle.
I used to have phone and fax lines, but in the last year or two, we just haven't used the fax line at all. And as I'm paying rent every month for that line, I called Malaysia Telekom to ask what I had to do to cancel it.
"Well," said the girl, "You need to bring your passport, a letter with your company chop (local slang for stamp), a Telekom bill and of course company documents: your Form 40, Form......"
"That's all the stuff I gave you when I registered this line," I said. "Why do you need it all again? How about I prove who I am, and you look up the rest of the paperwork you have on file?"
"It's POLICY," says the girl haughtily. This is a typical response here in Malaysia from bean counters and paper pushers who enjoying piling up red tape.
I collected the paperwork which took about an hour. As the nearest Telekom office is 40 minutes away, I knew I was in for wasting a whole morning. It was a day before a public holiday, Raya, and it was supposed to be business as usual. However, knowing how Telekom work, or rather don't, I called to make sure they were open.
"Yes we are open!" the girl said. So I went and they were closed. My pal Bernard reported he had exactly the same problem. You can imagine the depths of our language.
I went again about 10 days ago. This time I was told to fill out an extra form. Then I was whisked to see Ms Mika, who promptly chucked the form out saying, "That's not the one you need to fill up." She eyed the stack of papers I was carrying with awe and said, "What's that for?"
"It's my passport, Form 40, and so on," I say.
"But you don't need all that!" says Ms Mika. "Just show me proof of identity and a letter and it's done."
She was true to her word. It took less than 5 minutes and went without a hitch.
Ms Mika is wonderful. But seriously, having wasted so much time and energy, I could have cheerfully murdered her. I guess that's human nature.
PS Frus is local slang for frustration, the feeling everyone in Malaysia feels when dealing with any kind of paperwork, and blur is slang for stupid or switched off people.