Helpful airport immigration officials typify fine civil service

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 11 January, 2008, 12:00am

I am writing to thank the Immigration Department of Hong Kong.

When I travelled to London on Christmas Eve, I arrived at the immigration counter at Hong Kong International Airport only to discover I did not have my identity card with me.

I had put all my Hong Kong club cards into my safe at home, and must have inadvertently placed my identity card among them.

I was turning to join the long queue of non-residents with my passport, when the immigration officer at the counter smilingly asked for my identity card number.

I gave it to her, and she turned around and gave it to her superior patrolling behind her.

The officer took the number to check in his office, I presume. Within minutes the officer returned and waved me through.

He also helpfully informed me that on my return I would not have to stand in the non-residents queue.

All I had to do was give my HKID number to the officer at the residents' counter.

I suspect that in most other countries, I would be waved over to the non-residents' queue by a stern-faced official, angry at me for joining the wrong queue.

In my other encounters with Hong Kong civil servants, the police (even when they are giving me a ticket) and officers from other services such as St John Ambulance, I have always been offered polite and helpful service.

We are so lucky to have such efficient, courteous and helpful civil servants working for us, yet we rarely hear or read in the media any praise for them, which is very unfair.

All we hear are complaints, in particular, from some of our legislators.

It would be nice, from this new year onwards, if we can hear more praise for our civil servants when they do things right.

If we wish to complain, maybe we can offer some workable alternative proposals at the same time, instead of taking to the streets and shouting slogans as if we are the most oppressed people in this world.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui