Rude reception

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 September, 2003, 12:00am

A 45-minute wait at Chek Lap Kok's immigration control prompted American Josh Zeitman to criticise Hong Kong's immigration process as 'outrageous' ('Airport queue,' September 26). His experience was unfortunate, but I suggest that he compare like with like.

Considering what aliens entering the US have to put up with, waiting 45 minutes at immigration in Hong Kong is a godsend. My recent experience with brash, inefficient, arrogant, discriminatory immigration officers in San Francisco airport is quite the norm for aliens entering the US.

Mr Zeitman should count his lucky stars that Hong Kong immigration does not:

Cramp aliens in ziz-zag queues while they wait over 90 minutes to get their passports stamped. These queues do not allow anyone the option to query an officer or retrieve one of several confusing forms that are required by US immigration.

It is common to see aliens, who have been waiting patiently, approach the counters only to be turned back by arrogant officers. They then have to quickly fill out the forms which the officers give them.

If entry forms were more accessible to those in the queue, or if they could question an officer standing nearby, queuing times would be reduced.

Employ rude, chatty officers who shout at aliens or to their colleagues across counters.

Go to obvious extremes when ethnic profiling. Having queued patiently and listened to banal banter by a loud American immigration officer, my wife and I had to pass through another bottleneck with our luggage.

Non-white aliens are more likely to be directed to a queue where their luggage is checked. I noticed that all people in this queue were of numerous ethnicities except white. This took a further 40 minutes.

Should US immigration ever treat aliens with courtesy, I will take Mr Zeitman's Hong Kong experience much more seriously.

WILL LAI, Tsim Sha Tsui