Friday, 2 January 2009

Low IQ, Low EQ?

I used to go to Immigration (ICA) quite often. To wait a whole day just to submit or collect a pass is very common. At any one time, you can see crowds. Until today, it has never changed much even though ICA is boasting about its online services now.

This incident happens a few years ago. But even now, the attitude of ICA staff has not changed much.

On 21st January 2003, I went to ICA again to submit a ward's Banker's Guarantee and show the officer the original documents of the applicant. I showed the receptionist the letter from ICA and the applicant's documents and was given a queue number at counters 4 to 11. I waited one hour for my number to be called, only to be informed that I was in the wrong queue. I had to take another queue number for counters 18 to 23.

When my number was called at counter 19, (I was served by Irene) I was told I need a letter from the school (which is SIM) confirming the student is studying there and the course commencement date.

I informed her that the original letter from the school had been submitted and it was in the file she was holding. She refused to accept it as "it is a letter of acceptance from the school, not a confirmation letter." She asked for the receipt for the payment of the course, but I did not bring it. I was told to go back to SIM to get the letter and come back the next day.

I called SIM's Programme Officer Rohana Neti and she confirmed that the letter which was submitted to ICA was valid as the description of the course and duration was written. Besides the same letter format was submitted for the Indonesian students of SIM before and they were accepted without questions. But Rohana agreed to write another letter to make sure the student could commence his course as soon as possible. I was to collect the letter from SIM in Clementi Road (west of Singapore) the next morning. I lived in East Coast Road (east of Singapore).

The next morning after collecting the confirmation letter from SIM, I went to ICA, show the receptionist the letter from ICA and the applicant's documents again so as to get a queue number. I was surprised that I was given a queue number for counters 4 to 11 again. I pointed out the error to the girl and she changed it for me.

When my number was called, I gave the documents (minus the confirmation letter to test if the letter was really required) to a Malay counter staff. She told me to go back at 2.15 pm to collect the Student Pass.

At 2.15 pm, my number was called by a young Chinese lady at counter 18. I paid for the SP and there was no mention of any confirmation letter. It was not required!

I was confused and puzzled. I was made to run around like a mad dog to get the 'right' document.

Are the counter staff's standard of English language so poor?
How qualified are these staff?
Who decides the rules in ICA?
Can counter staff make their own rules? (They seem to do it all the time.)

There are several counter staff who have served in ICA for many years. Some act as if they are the decision makers in ICA. What qualifications do they have?

I heard from many of the runners who are regulars at ICA, "In the past (I think even up till now) the duration of the waiting period of your various passes depend on the moods of the staff that day or the applicant's face." There seems to be some truth in it.

Time and again, I was forced to waste precious time and money because of these people's inefficiency and poor knowledge of Immigration rules and procedures. It does not please me to know that I pay taxes for these civil servants' salaries.


Anonymous said...

I apologize for laughing about your post, but what you're describing is apparently a worldwide phenomenon. I see that kind of thing go on here in the United States when we have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles or the Social Security Administration office. Time wasting civil service runarounds are a basic fact of modern life everywhere. It's a pathetic abuse of power by bored people who know that they can get away with it.


EastCoastLife said...

maninthe moon,
You have every reason to laugh. Many people laugh when I tell them these silly stories.

The thing is : the Singapore Government is often praised for its highly efficient and productive services

Our leaders are always boasting of how great our civil service is compared to other countries.

So much so that we have to pay them high salaries so they would not become monkeys.

But the sh*t at the ground level is never shown to the leaders.

I just like slapping their faces. :D

ettarose said...

Oh it has been so long since I read you. Hope things are going well for you. The story I just read makes me very angry. This is happening in other countries as well. Why is my question? We are always having budgets cut for important things like school and yet we pay taxes for such stupid stupid things like this.

EastCoastLife said...

Hi ettarose,
Nice to see you again.

This seems to be a universal problem.

You are right. They put a cap on education, welfare, health... and yet pay for frivolous things like building an out-of-this-world theatre or stadium, pay fat salaries and bonuses for civil servants.

We citizens are never paying for the best people to take care of us. Those people are not even good. The best are found in private sectors.

LEon said...

To them they think we need them (in fact we do if we have something to apply for) as we are going there to get a license or a approval. So that place them higher. We are no longer customer even tho we pay for it.

EastCoastLife said...

Those people cannot think.

By forcing customers to use online, they think the government will feed them if they have no customers to serve? Can our leaders tahan them swatting flies?

Save money, cut budget.... top talent in ICA pushing for automation. Lowly ranks first to go. Good luck to them.

LEon said...

Cost saving may not mean cutting out low ranking worker force. As the economy is grim, they will need to provide job to cushion the jobless rate. However replacement is very possible. Younger and lower paid can replace older higher paid ones. But will the mindset be passed on as well since the higher post is still remain? Hm...End of the day , "Networking" may save a day...or two.

EastCoastLife said...

That's why for decades our civil service is still so kiasu, kiasi.... no one dares to be different.

The ordinary citizens suffer.

In fact the civil servants are getting worse, with the influx of foreigners bringing in their culture of bribery. I have too many cases on hand.