Thursday, August 25, 2011

562. A Tourist Under Suspicion - Part 3

Incredible Travel Stories:
A Tourist Under Suspicion - Part 3

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
7.23 am, August 26, 2011, Singapore

Continued from Part 2.

"Perhaps, 'black-marked' is not the correct word," I replied. "If I accept your offer not to enter Hong Kong and go to Macau directly, the Hong Kong Immigration Office will stamp my passport with a secret code letting all other countries' Immigration Officers know that I have been denied entry into Hong Kong today. Maybe the correct word is 'blacklisted."

The MIO had said that he would chop my passport "Transit in Hong Kong" on the way to Macau and that would show that I had not been denied entry into Hong Kong on August 20, 2011. I had been classified as a tourist under suspicion. Either I accept his offer to go direct to Macau transiting Hong Kong or be sent home on the next plane.

In reply, the MIO said: "If I want to let other immigration officers know that you are blacklisted by us, the information will not be inside your chop "Transit in Hong Kong. It is done another way."

I guessed it would be some codes encrypted inside the passport and understood only by Immigration Officers.

"In 1988, I was a member of the Singapore Turf Club's task force invited by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. There was no problem."

The MIO said: "Hong Kong is no longer under the British rule. Since 1997, Hong Kong is the special administrative region (SAR)of the People's Republic of China."

I knew about SAR but kept quiet. Well, I had no friends in Hong Kong as referees and had not visited Hong Kong for the past 23 years. So I used the only reference I had. But the name of the Racing Clubs cut no ice with the MIO.

The MIO said: "If you go to Macau from the Hong Kong International Airport, there is a direct link and you need not step into Hong Kong. Then I need not send you back to Singapore on the next plane. I consider it a hostile and unfriendly act."

"What have I done wrong to be a national threat to the security of Hong Kong?" I asked as if discussing the prognosis of my canine patient suffering from cardiac tamponade. The prognosis would be poor and I would ask the dog owner to spend the last few days with her old dog.

The MIO said: "You have not done anything wrong. However I am not allowed to let you know the reason."

So, here I was. Two and a half hours had passed. My last few minutes inside Hong Kong. No more second chances of visiting Hong Kong again if I accepted this offer. There were more implicatons than just being banned from Hong Kong.

"If Hong Kong bans me as a threat to its national interest, I will also be banned from entering Macau since Macau is also part of China," I believed that both share the same blacklists of tourists under suspicions since Macau is also part of China, being one of the two special administrative regions under the one-government two-systems policy of China.

"No," the MIO said. "Macau has its own information system as to who to prohibit from entering Macau."

I did not ask him how he was so sure that I would also not be welcome in Macau since both SARS have their independent system? Don't they share a blacklist of undesired person? That would be logical since both are part of China. I might also detained for a 3-hour questioning and Macau would do the dirty work for Hong Kong Immigration Office by sending me back on the next plane.

I said: "China will also ban me since Hong Kong has me on the blacklist."

The MIO said: "I see that you had visited China and had no problems."

I did not retort that it was some 2 years ago so as not to offend the MIO.

"Does it mean that I will not be able to visit Hong Kong forever?" I asked.

"Not necessarily. Things may change with time."

"I am 60 years," I said. "I don't have time on my side." Besides, I don't realistically see any changes for the better for me once I accept his offer not to step into Hong Kong now.

"I am suggesting that you go to Macau as sending you back on the next available plane is a hostile act. I don't want to commit an unfriendly act. You can spend your next four days visiting Macau."

I said: "My main purpose was to visit Hong Kong. To see the changes since 23 years ago. Macau is just a side trip as I have never travelled to Macau before."

"What do you want to do in Hong Kong?" the MIO asked.
"To see Times Square," I said off my head.
"You come to Hong Kong to see Times Square?" the MIO rolled his eyes in surprise. I guessed I had provided an incorrect answer.

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