Damien on… Tales Of Immigration
Ask any school-kid what they want to be when they grow up and what do you get? Astronaut (never happen). Train driver (no, you don’t). Vet (not if you LIKE animals). Nurse (you don’t know what’s involved). Doctor (more money, but likewise). Private eye (you’ve been watching too much TV).
But one thing you can guarantee is none of them will say, “I want to be a Traffic Warden. It is my goal in life to keep the traffic of Britain flowing freely.”
So where DO Traffic Wardens come from? Well, most are failed cops and ALL are damaged goods. Ugly people who were teased at school. Pompous ones who got “flushed” there. And generally, those who didn’t fit.
They either became serial killers or Traffic Wardens.
And thus it is with “Clearance Officers”. The fact is, people gravitate towards the life-partners and careers they are cut OUT for. So if you HATE people and don’t like wearing a uniform (which of course, all Traffic Wardens HIDE behind) Clearance Officer at an embassy is the job for YOU.
You see, the term is a misnomer. The job of a Clearance Officer in NOT to CLEAR people for entry into a country – it is to determine which of the battery of Conditions they have at their disposal they can use to REFUSE them entry.
Here in Thailand, the Brutish… sorry, BRITISH Embassy is the start point for Brits who have fallen for the charms (of which there are many) of a local woman and wish to take them back to Blighty.
In The Old Days, it was easy. You just popped down to the embassy and said to the guy there, “Hello old chap. I say, I met this popsy in a bar last night and damn if I didn’t MARRY the gell! What a hoot, eh what?” To which the immigration officer would reply, “Good for you, old bean. My, she’s a looker, eh what? Here’s a passport for her. Welcome to the British Empire, m’dear!”
Okay, maybe it was never QUITE like that, but it was certainly a lot easier than it is today – until guys started marrying and divorcing girls at the rate of several a year, as a BUSINESS, so the girls could get into Britain and start living off the fat of the land (of which there is precious little left). So then they brought the BUREAUCRATS in.
And getting past THEM is NOT easy. Any bar-girls are immediately weeded out by the Condition that demands the girl has a “proper” work record.
But their favourite Condition is the one concerning COMMUNICATION.
If the girl doesn’t speak near-perfect English (or the guy doesn’t speak near-perfect Thai – yeah, lotsa luck with THAT one – S.E. Asian languages are NOTHING like the Romance tongues) they shake their heads with mock-sadness and inform you that you cannot have a proper relationship as you cannot converse.
The fact primitive man had the same problem but it didn’t stop HIM from forming a relationship – if it had, neither Clearance Officers or normal people would BE here – doesn’t appear to occur to them.
Of course, one can understand the British government’s reticence at allowing still more immigrants to enter our beloved isle, to muddy our gene pool and leech our facilities. But surely, the Thai government would WELCOME ex-pat Brits with open arms? After all, we bring shed-loads of hard currency into their Second-World economy and support many of their citizens – right?
Right. If you marry a Thai woman, since the Welfare State here is non-existent and people rely on FAMILY for support – as they do almost EVERYWHERE outside Northern and Western Europe, North America and the Antipodes – you will be expected to “chip in”.
And since Thai food is inedible to most farangs (Westerners – like “Gringos”) they spend a fortune in the upscale supermarkets.
Plus the women we end up with are, by Thai standards (which are WAY higher than Western ones) only average ones. The REAL babes marry rich THAI guys.
Anyhoo, given the above, you could be forgiven for assuming the Thai immigration authorities would roll out the red carpet for farangs who deign to move here, but not so. They are bureaucrats too. All of Thailand is RIDDLED with them.
People who never use one form when six will suffice. People who like to make as MUCH work for themselves as possible, since more work means more staff. And more staff means more POWER. So they are NEVER going to “rationalise” THEIR systems.
On the contrary, every year, they give a prize to the employee that can come up with the best new idea for an “improvement” to the system that will piss off as many farangs as possible. And the more POINTLESS it is, the better.
It matters not how ridiculous the new wrinkle is – the bosses will simply spin it as some sort of “security” measure.
This is the reason Thailand LOST Disneyland Asia. After wrestling with the bureaucrats for months, The Mouse finally gave up and went to Hong Kong.
And you cannot side-step them. For a long time, this reporter took the trouble to go all the way to the border every month (this is a BIG country) to gain a “re-entry” tourist visa. But he knew it would not last. I told my wife, “One day, some big bureaucrat will ask another, ‘How many farangs are living here?’ And he’ll say, ‘I have no idea – most avoid our bullsh*t by getting a series of tourist visas.'”
I continued, “At which point, the first bureaucrat’s little eyes will light up and he’ll put out a declaration that in future, no more than six months of tourist visas will be permitted to be issued to an individual in any twelve month period.”
Which is EXACTLY what happened, two years later. Except it was three months in any six – which meant the bureaucrats got snowed under in half the time. Files ended up being piled against the walls of the aptly-named “Room 101” at the Bangkok Thai consulate.
It got so bad, they had to bring out ANOTHER decree. This time, it was that all visa applications must be made at the applicant’s LOCAL immigration office.
These were outposts which up until then, had mostly only serviced the people who took the “you must notify local immigration within 24 hours if you move” clause in the tourist visa literally (there’s always some clown who will – despite it meaning if he’s a back-packer, he’ll spend most of his holiday sitting in bureaucrats’ waiting rooms).
From a handful of “clients” each week, these back-of-beyond bureaucrats suddenly found themselves dealing with HUNDREDS. So much for the easy life they thought they’d found. Served ’em right.
But yours truly is SETTLED here now. So every year, he has to dance to the tunes of these excrescences. Play their games. Go running around like a headless chicken, obtaining yet MORE pointless pieces of paper they can stamp their little stamps on.
I am reminded of a line – What do you call twenty bureaucrats with concrete wellies at the bottom of the Chao Phraya river? A damn good START…