Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Exercise of Vital Powers

"The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government." - Thomas Jefferson

Well we've certainly come a long way since then. It's been almost a month since my government prevented me from returning to live in my own country, therefore exiling me to Korea, a story I've repeated to friends and anyone else who cared to listen to a mix of disbelief, indignation and the special kind of nervous laughter emitted when you realise that those who try to control every aspect of our lives have lost the plot to such an extent that truly anything is now possible.

It would be nice if I could treat the decision with the sense of absurdity that it rightly deserves, but in truth the enormity of it has made the last few weeks pretty miserable. So it's been heartening to receive words of support from people, and some help behind the scenes as well. Even though I know it to be illusory, it's reminded me that - even if we're not American - good democratic government is of the people, for the people and by the people, not against them, and 'we the people' can still tell right from wrong, even if those who would presume to govern us no longer can.

After a lot of work, in less than ideal circumstances, and with some last minute rushing around, we submitted our appeal against the ruling on Thursday morning. We may get a quick decision but most cases seem to drag on for several months and culminate in a British Court hearing. There is much more of a story to tell and perhaps one day I will, because it's certainly been an eye-opening experience.

It's been my first experience dealing with an Embassy in a foreign country, and I don't know whether my recent experiences are exceptional or more common than we might suspect, but from my perspective right now the moral of the story is to know the rules in detail before beginning to deal with these people, and as ridiculous as it may sound, make sure you can come back to live in your country before leaving it, even if, like me, you're a citizen.

Korean tags: 관료, 자유, 대사관, 정부


Anonymous said...

There is a blog I used to read called 'Prince Roy"
This gentleman is an American embassy employee in Taiwan and before that, India. From his perspective he had to deal daily with Indians and Americans and it was not a happy experience.
Americans being the worst.
Very demanding and unreasonabe.
I have no doubt that you were polite and reasonable and its a shame that you were treated in such a manner.

daeguowl said...

I suspect a child would smooth the way to a visa...they'd surely not turn down the mother of UK citizen...

Mike said...

Anonymous - I can imagine that the life of an embassy employee is far from easy. But I would say, if you don't believe in God, why become a priest? In this context, if you don't believe in the liberties of your own citizens, why work for an embassy? Bear in mind, all this happened without them even talking to me once, so my personal circumstances have been tried in absentia. In other words, I didn't even get the chance to be impolite and unreasonable :-) Not that I would have been - I think such behaviour is self-defeating, especially when dealing with authority.

However, I would not be surprised if, in the Embassy's mind, I am now making a nuisance of myself - so even though I am remaining civil perhaps I am now classed as one of those unreasonable people anyway.

Mike said...

Daeguowl - I wouldn't bet on it. They've clearly demonstrated that they are the law and they can do whatever they like. Our presumptions of the rights of citizenship are nothing more than that.

I would not have believed this before, but it has transpired in the course of this that once a British citizen is out of the country for more than six months they lose some of their citizenship rights, as they are not classed as a resident. The second-class citizenship you then have as an 'ex-pat' can be exploited by the authorities who can use it to effectively exclude you and your family from the country. I'm not saying it happens often - but it's happened in my case and the potential for such judgements exists.

I haven't looked into it, but it's not clear to me what the rights of my child would be to enter the country or even be classed as British. Clearly, they've decided my wife has no rights to enter the country, so I'm not sure why a child would be different.

If you accept the logic of their position, the situations that logic can take you to are quite extraordinary.

daeguowl said...

If the father is a UK passport holder then the child is also entitled...why don't you come up to Seoul and we can match on the embassy. Actually, you can use their swimming pool during the week so we can attack from the inside... :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike, it's Dale,

If you needs anything, perhaps a letter of reference from somebody "independant" who can confirm this isn't a geren card marriage, then just ask.

All the best with the appeal.

Also on a slightly more controversial note, have you thought of coming back to the UK on a visit, then applying, with all the UK resources behind you. It may be easier when your both in the UK already.

Mike said...

Thanks Dale. They don't seem to be doubting our marriage so much as obsessing about how long we intend to stay. The bizarre logic is that they aren't going to let us in if we only want to stay for a short time, but it's OK if we intend to stay longer. In a country increasingly obsessed with the number of immigrants living within it, who'd have thought the government would be twisting my wife's arm to stay as long as possible?

At the moment we're waiting for the appeal process to progress, so there's nothing much to be done until we hear back from them. There's a point at which I may have to return to the UK on my own to fight this from the inside, so one way or the other I expect to be back within the next six months.

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