A trial visit to the immigration office

Friday, August 21, 2009
Issue 798, Page 2
Word count: 595
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

It had been two years since the last time I went to the Immigration Office for Foreign Labour. Yesterday’s visit was because I needed to renew my “blue card”. And I noticed something in the office has changed, in a bad way I reckon.

I arrived in the immigration office after lunch, as crowded and noisy as always. I remembered the last time I came there was an automatic ticket machine standing near the entrance so that people could use the display interface to select the service and get a ticket number at their convenience. But obviously some time ago the office decided to move the machine away somewhere. Puzzled. I looked to the left and right, there was no sign at all to direct people where to go. I saw a few people lining up in front of a work desk, holding some paperwork in hand. So I approached the queue to try to get some clues of where I could get a ticket or what I should do. But what I saw on the desk was a paper sign, saying “Please Let Me Check Your Documents” in English and Chinese. I hesitated and thought it might not be the right place for me to go first of all.

I wandered around the entrance for a short while until I finally found the information counter. I asked where I could get a ticket for blue card renewal application, and the lady signalled me to go to the other side (where the desk was). I went to the desk, but was still not certain if it was where the lady meant (because I only saw people present some paperwork to the officer to check). So I went back to the information counter again, and asked if she meant “the desk”. Having been given a certain answer, I walked back to the table, lined up and it was at that time I found two red plastic baskets containing some dirty water in the middle of the office. If there was not a leak in the ceiling, I would really wonder what they were for in the immigration office – a government department.

I finally told the officer I wanted to renew my blue card. He asked for my paperwork, looked through them and eventually gave me a paper ticket dispensed from the machine hiding behind the desk, the one used to stand near the office entrance.

Then I thought perhaps the change was a good one – to improve the flow and avoid people from getting a ticket/waiting when their applications actually could not be accepted as yet due to missing paperwork.

After about 20 minutes the public announcement called my number. I sat down at a counter and gave all the documents to the lady officer. But at the same time I saw three uniformed Public Security Police/immigration officers behind the counter, chatting while sitting on a table, a chair (with a very “laid-back” pose) and standing respectively. The impression was definitely not pleasant. This reminded me of the many times I heard officers at the Border Gate immigration counters uttered Chinese swear words when chatting to their fellow workers (even when I was standing in front of them) and once I saw a woman PSP officer on patrol wear two ear studs on the same ear.

Eventually I was told a Human Resources Office document was missing and hence my application was turned away. It was at that moment I overturned my previous assumption and said to myself that the “work desk” was pointless.

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