WHEN I assumed the post of officer with the State Immigration Department way back in 1971, I though the job, which I did not expect to be challenging, would only be a stepping stone.
But I was wrong. As it turned out, the job was not only interesting but stimulating as well.
Thus, I stayed on with the department for 34 years -- until the day I formally retired.
During the first 12 years at the department, I was attached to the department's enforcement and passport division.
My schedule at the enforcement division proved to be hectic but it was also exciting. Most of the time, my team and I are out checking on premises harbouring illegal immigrants.
My posting to the Customs and Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) checkpoint at the Johor Baru Causeway in 1980 was enjoyable as I got to know visitors from all walks of life.
They comprised tourists from all over the world including Singaporeans, our immediate neighbours.
An unforgettable occurrence during my service at the CIQ was a test of my honesty. After claiming his endorsed passport, a tourist left his bag containing a hefty sum of US dollars on my counter.
Feeling sorry for the visitor, I rushed to return the bag to the state Tourist Development Corporation Office (TDC), who located the tourist at a hotel.
The tourist, overjoyed at receiving what he thought was surely lost, wrote a letter of appreciation to the TDC.
The story did not end there. A few days later, I received a letter of appreciation from the TDC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur for my sincerity in upholding the good name of the country.
In 1983, I was posted to London, England, as assistant immigration attache officer.
I believe it could have been my loyalty to the department over the years that was the reason for the promotion.
My five-year tenure in London was exhilarating.
The highest number of Malaysians residing in the UK then were higher education students.
The students stayed between three and seven years, depending on their courses of study.
There were no twinning programmes back then; thus their numbers soared with each year.
Some even preferred to stay on after completing their studies.
London was also a city frequently visited by our country's prominent leaders such as Tun Musa Hitam, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim and several menteris besar, including the late Datuk Ajib Ahmad of Johor. Most of them shunned publicity and were down-to-earth people.
For example, when Ajib was in London, he took a bus ride to call on me in Kingsbury Crundale Avenue, North West London.
After returning to Malaysia in 1988, I was posted to the International Passport Division in Johor Baru.
Six years later, I was promoted to the division deputy assistant director.
The division was a hive of activity as applicants thronged the office as early as 6.30am daily.
To overcome the hassle, several senior officers and I proposed for a branch office at Pekan Rabu.
The proposal was approved by the ministry as it would eased the officer's burden at the Federal government building Wisma Persekutuan.
However, before the Pekan Rabu branch office could get off the ground, I had completed my service with the department.
Nevertheless, I was to be in Pekan Rabu as I was to act as the commissioner of oaths (COO). I also opened a photo shop there.
I am now in my sixth year in Pekan Rabu and enjoying every minute of my work.
Outside working hours, I am presently state COO association chairman and BBU Senior Citizens' Association head.
Othman Abdul Rahim, 62, lives in Bandar Baru Uda with his wife Asmah Mahmood. The couple have three children Suhaila, a lawyer in Dublin, Safwan, who is pursuing a masters degree in London, and Mohd Syazwan, a Phd student at UiTM Shah Alam.