Another of those surveys was published yesterday: this time the best city in the world to live. As usual Canadian and Australian cities dominate, the former immediately making the report questionable to say the least. I mean, Toronto the fourth best city in the world to live - now you are taking the piss.
An ex-colleague of mine emigrated to Perth whilst we were jet setting around the world. I have never been to Australia; indeed it is not one of the those countries I have ever had a desire to visit. However I looked at Perth - 9th in that list of the best cities -on Wiki and it did seem quite a decent place. So I Googled further. And the first thing I look at for in any country now is the level of taxation. Having spent thirty years of my working life contributing to the UK's wish to support those that don't deserve it whilst now being ineligible for the free health care or pension I have become sensitive over this issue. Australia falls under the Western type tax levels where less than 30% taxation means you are on the poverty line. And I also noticed that immigrants are taxed at this rate regardless of their income whereas citizens get a free tax band - welcome to Australia. Australia, as with Canada, is a nation of immigrants, (save for the few 'first nation' people the immigrants failed to eradicate) yet now has one the widest moats and tallest drawbridges.
But I continued on. We would be bringing our business there of course but to qualify for a visa we would need to show income to the company over more than A$500,000/year for the past 3 years and have assets worth A$850,000. That latter amount is 28,000,000 baht. But even if we were able to show that (and if we could I certainly wouldn't be working anymore) I am ineligible because of my age. Once you hit 54 it seems you are worthless. I am 54 but only feel worthless some days.
So Australia is a no then. Never mind, it was just a bit of fun.
But 24 hours later Ploy tells me she has to go into town to get some more company papers for our last month's trading. The dragon lady in Lop Buri (see here for further enlightenment) had called her. First she needed some more papers. But the real reason for the call - to ask for another 3000 baht 'for Bangkok to complete the processing'. Ploy told her to fuck off. Ploy explained she would be in Lop Buri within the hour to collect all the papers so she could take them to Bangkok herself and complain to her bosses. The request was quickly retracted. But Ploy still has to get last's month's filings and take them to her.
It has been six weeks now since we filed for my business visa renewal. My visa ran out early this month and I am now on their extension period, an arbitrary stamp in my passport that I thankfully have not had to put to the test. That runs out in 2.5 weeks time. If it were possible to view this dispassionately instead of through a red mist I might guess that Bangkok have informed this woman that my visa is ready - for some reason she collects it and it is not posted. So she thought she would find some excuse to try to extort some more money from us. It didn't work. So next week we will probably get our visa and I will be expected to politely wai this woman to receive back my valued passport stamp. And that will be it for a year - well a year less the time they have taken to process this, so about 10 months in effect. And then we have to do it again. Next month is my work permit renewal.
This is my job, says Ploy, let me handle it. But what it does is deflate me to the extent I am useless for the rest of the day; even more so than normal. OK, the work permit should be for 2 years this time and so far there is no change in that. And as with the work permit it is likely that next year things will be easier, they seem to acknowledge that their real chance of extortion is your first application. But it still nags away at me. The ASEAN integration in 2015 may make a change in all these immigration procedures, although for Westerners, as the only targets then left to them, it may make things worse.
But our options are very narrow now. Returning to the UK, for Ploy at least, would be a very difficult with the new visa laws. More and more countries are making it more and more difficult to emigrate to them. The gap between rich and poor is widening and we fall in the void in the middle. So we are going to have to deal with this woman. We still have the fall back of the renewal in Singapore every 3 months and we can use that as leverage against her. And the speed with which she withdrew her demand for more money means she is concerned about Ploy's threat to expose her. Whilst we would not bring down every corrupt officer - I doubt many would be left - it seems clear that her job would certainly be in jeopardy as she is hung out to dry. But it still eats away at me.
For all the all the impossible demands of Australia, if we did meet their requirements I doubt we would be asked for some sweetener payments just for them to do their job.
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