Deputy minister needs attitude check, immigration officers say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 2009, 12:00am

Immigration officers yesterday expressed disapproval of Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung's comments that he had not been 'careful enough' when he offered his government name card as proof of income when renewing his maid's contract.

The union urged the deputy minister to review his attitude.

'We regret the way Mr Greg So responded to this matter. He should review his manner in submitting his application [for his maid's contract] and be more polite and considerate in the application,' Immigration Service Officers' Association chairman William Lee Hok-lim said.

Referring to the public uproar that followed revelations that the deputy minister had offered his name card as income proof, Mr Lee said officers did not feel Mr So had apologised to immigration officers, as he only said he 'apologises for having caused any inconvenience to my colleagues'.

Mr So apologised on Thursday for 'having caused any inconvenience to my colleagues and possible public concern' and that he was 'not careful enough in handling the matter', when he proffered his name card to immigration officers, inferring they would know his salary because it became widely publicly known after a row when it was revealed.

He provided only the name card, rather than the required documents of income proof such as bank records and pay slips.

Lawmakers said they were shocked that the department had accepted his application and that officers were able to exercise such discretion. He said this would confuse others who made similar applications.

Acting Director of Immigration David Chiu Wai-kai said the immigration officer involved had not been negligent in the matter as similar discretion was exercised in 20 to 30 per cent of maid contract applications when applicants could not provide sufficient documentation.

'They might not even need to provide a name card,' Mr Chiu said. But he said the department encouraged officers to contact applicants about documentary issues, and cross-check other information.

Unionist lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan yesterday said Mr Chiu's comment would confuse the public and the director of immigration needed to explain publicly why officers were allowed such leeway relating to contract renewals of maids.

'Otherwise, all maids' employers will only provide a name card as income proof,' Mr Lee said, adding that the department's ability to enforce the law was under attack, as was officers' morale.