Friday, February 9, 2007

Immigrant Prison

"How long you stay in Singapore?"

"Almost three years now," I replied.

Then he just had to ask the dreaded question...

"So you PR or not?" [damn youuuu for asking this!]

"Nope," I grunted.

"You apply oreddi?"

"Only four times now!"

"You success or not?"

"Nope.. They never want to approve it. They never give a reason."

"Wah lau. Ha ha ha ha! ....... Ha ha ha ha ha! ....... Ha ha ha!"

"Stop it now. Please," I begged.

"Ha ha ha ha!" he continued. It had tickled him immensely.

"Its not that funny."

"Ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Tears began to swell in my eyes. That was it. Time to defend myself...

"Actually the last rejection letter said that if I apply in one more year's time I'll have a good chance of being approved."

This at least seemed to sober him up a bit.

"Actually I don't see why they don't approve you ah. Since you here for so long already," he consoled me.

"I guess they just really want to test me. Most ang moh just bugger off home after a few years here anyway. So no there's point in granting PR for them."

"Ahh I see. So tough ah? So where you go apply ah?"

"Lavender there. The 'ICA' building. You know? The one that used to be 'SIR' but they changed the name of it."

"Ahhhhhhh. That place ahh. I TELL you ah," [This is always the start of an ammmmazing taxi story. Stories with mysteries that are only exceeded by their dubiousness]


"I TELL you ah. You know what is underneath that place?" he asked in a sinisterly but coy manner.

"No idea. Tell me."

"I TELL you. Do you ever see any immigration offender in Singapore?"


"I TELL you. Underneath ICA building. Is a prison," he whispered whilst scoping the road for any other traffic.


"A prison lah! Jail! Gaol!"

"You're joking right?"

"No lah. I tell you ah. Underneath the ICA. Its where they keep all the immigration offenders. Do you ever see them in the normal prison?"

"Well now you come to say it. Er... How do you know all this?" [...and wait another second. I've never actually seen the 'normal' prison for that matter]

"I tell you a secret. My friend ah. He was there for five years."

"Five years! You're not joking? Where is your friend from?"

"Ah.. This I cannot tell you lah. Else you might find out who he is." [I'm assuming he's from some obscure country that has only had one citizen to ever step foot in Singapore]

"Fair enough."

"Yeah! Now you know. Now you know! Get your PR soon then you wont be an offender."

"But I have an employment pass."

"Don't offend ah. Then you will end up in the prison underneath the ICA." [They just don't hear me do they?]

Finally and thankfully. We had reached my destination.

"Er. Can I get out now? Let me out!" I asked as I moved from a whimper, to a sob to a wail.

He let me out alright. The visions of illegal immigrants being whipped in a dungeon beneath the ICA building filled my bewlidered mind. I was tired and it was time for some Maggi Mee and some sleep. Before that however, I double checked my employment pass to check it was still in date.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Not Again

Flagging down a taxi one night, I was greeted with the familiar sight of an open window and a vigilant driver hanging over the passenger seat with a face full of the question:

"Where you go ah?!"

"Bukit Panjang!" I shouted, even though I was stood next to the taxi.

To which the driver animatedly replied, "No No No No! I have an appointment! Cannot cannot!" and hastily drove away.

Two minutes later as I'm walking down the same road. What do I see? Mr taxi driver sat at the coffee shop drinking his kopi-o.