All passengers are treated impartially
I refer to the letter headlined 'Unhappy landing for many visitors' (South China Morning Post, June 1).
Hong Kong welcomes visitors and has, all along, adopted a liberal immigration policy. Nationals from more than 170 countries and territories are allowed visa-free visits to Hong Kong for periods ranging from seven days to six months.
Upon arrival in Hong Kong, the immigration control officer will examine individual passengers to ascertain their bona fides and to see whether they meet the normal immigration requirements.
We have a performance pledge to clear 92 per cent of passengers within 15 minutes at the airport control point. The immigration examination at the counters therefore must be brief. In order not to delay the flow of passengers, when we need to conduct detailed inquiries, this is done away from the counters, in interview and waiting rooms.
The time required to process non-routine cases varies depending on the circumstances of individual cases. They are handled by supervisory grade officers and overseen by a senior immigration officer.
We have a duty to protect the security and interests of Hong Kong and we must not give permission for people to enter unless we are satisfied they are genuine visitors.
A careful and thorough immigration examination is therefore necessary in cases where the initial examination does not readily establish the passenger's bona fides as a visitor.
We are committed to provide a courteous and efficient service.
Our staff are regularly reminded to be courteous, helpful and considerate. They are trained to treat all passengers impartially, irrespective of sex, nationality, race and religion.
We will conduct thorough investigations into every complaint we receive and are always ready to listen to suggestions for improvements.
If your readers have any complaints or suggestions to make about the service we provide at the airport control point, they can contact me (telephone 2182 1484 and fax 2756 9691).
T. P. CHOY
Immigration Airport Division
for Director of Immigration