Name-blunder immigration ruling upheld

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 March, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 March, 2001, 12:00am

The Immigration Department rejected a Pakistani woman's application to live in Hong Kong but wrote the name of a complete stranger in a letter telling her of the decision last September.

In a follow-up letter to Zohra Khanam Butt, 50, who currently lives in Pakistan, the department said the mistake was a clerical error.

But her son Aziz Akbar Butt, 30, an SAR resident, said the mistake was not surprising because the rejection of many applications by Pakistanis and Indians was routine and their cases were not examined properly.

'Department officials don't even care what they are writing about,' he said. 'The treatment of people from Pakistan - not just them, but all people with dark skins and if they can't speak English - they treat them separately, differently.'

The first letter, dated September 2, referred to Mrs Butt's name correctly on first mention but she became Sita B K at the end of the letter.

It also said Mr Butt could not sponsor his mother to live in Hong Kong because he had no right of abode and could not work in the SAR. But the 30-year-old immigration consultant has a registered business in the territory and a Hong Kong identity card allowing him unconditional stay and employment. If he stayed for three more years, he would be entitled to apply for permanent residency.

Mr Butt and his mother's appeal against the decision was rejected.

In a written reply, the department said it would not comment on individual cases, but insisted the mistake was nothing more than 'a genuine clerical error' and the reasons for rejecting the application were valid regardless of it.