Singapore's Changi Airport. Photo: Thuc Minh
Singapore's immigration authority confirmed that it has gotten tougher with Vietnamese tourists, especially women, after many of them were found violating local laws when entering the country and during their stay there.
The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore, or ICA, was responding to the Vietnamese Embassy's request for an explanation, following reports that many Vietnamese women were denied entry to the country recently without clear reasons, Vietnam News Agency reported on Thursday.
Many Vietnamese women, for instance, were found using different passports when entering Singapore, ICA was quoted as saying.
When being interviewed, many Vietnamese without English competency failed to explain why they wanted to enter Singapore, the agency said. ICA officials would not allow these people to enter, even if they had never violated laws before,
The policy is similar for people from Thailand and some other ASEAN countries, ICA said.
Nguyen Cong Huan, an official with the embassy, said in the news report that his agency will continue working with the Singapore authority in defining which cases should be categorized suspicious and ineligible for entry.
He also promised to ask ICA to have "appropriate measures" so that their scrutiny will not cause trouble to other Vietnamese visitors who comply with Singaporean laws.
In the meantime, speaking to Thanh Nien, Brenda Tham, spokeswoman of ICA, said whether a Vietnamese tourist was allowed to enter Singapore based on "many factors." Tham, however, did not clarify which factors.
Earlier this week, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam also asked the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help it seek clarifications from related agencies in Singapore about the crisis, which reportedly caused huge losses to many airlines.
One airline told Thanh Nien that it lost 45,000-50,000 SGD (US$32,900-36,500) a month to pay charges and surcharges for its passengers who were not allowed to enter the country.
The fees included 17 SGD the carrier was supposed to pay for every hour a passenger was kept in ICA's custody, according to the airline's representative, adding that they paid an average of 350-360 SGD for a passenger before the passenger was allowed to fly back to Vietnam.
Since arrival carriers were obliged to bring their passengers back to Vietnam, many would suffer losses if the passengers booked their return flights with another airline.
A former aviation official told Thanh Nien most passengers who were denied entries refused to pay back the related costs to airlines.
Some did not leave Singapore right after being denied, and chose to stay at the airport for days, forcing airlines to pay thousands of dollars for their "custody" fees, he said.
The former official explained that ICA did not want to force the passengers to board their flights because they were not criminals.