Perhaps I was dead tired after a 3 cities 4 day trip but it made me sit up to be handed a pink Singapore health declaration form onboard UA895 last night that threatened jail (6 mths to a year) and fines ($10K to $20K) if the form isn’t returned or if I give knowingly false info.
Talk of being welcoming to visitors or even a returning citizen! Sure, I know that h1n1 is now a pandemic and Singapore has 1000+ confirmed cases and dozens pending confirmation.
But why can’t we be more subtle like in Hongkong, Shenzhen and Zuhai?
Yes, their forms stressed that there are serious consequences for non compliance too but left what that might be to the imagination. Theirs were also haphazardly structured ie Shenzhen’s declaration form didn’t mirror Zuhai’s (altho both are parts of China).
There also were subtle differences: HK asked for one’s exact birthday whereas Shenzhen and Zuhai wanted to know month and year only. Zuhai’s had a slightly pessimistic demand that one provided a contact number — “NOT YOURS” — in the event the traveller is detained.
Still, some Singaporeans may prefer Singapore’s no-nonsense approach as my travelling companion kept describing the health checks at the HK-Shenzhen-Zuhai borders as a joke!
There were temperature taking going to Shenzhen and Zuhai but none at the HK entrances.
Well, jokes aside, I prefer the immigration chaps at the Hongkong airport compared to ours. They were welcoming when we arrived and when I left earlier than my friend, the exit-immigration men were not only handsome but polite and smiley, and yes spoke Cantonese like the poshest of TVB stars.
Contrast this to the chappie who greeted me with a half suspicious stare (granted it was already past midnite!) and read my alias out from my passport in unsmiley tones. He only returned my smile half-heartedly when he saw me helping myself to a sweet and greedily popping it into my mouth.
I’ve lost the thread of the arguments about why our Changi airport has lost its pole position as the world’s top airport but mayb more welcoming good lookers at the immigration could help?