Readers, an extremely distressing incident involving two of our best friends, American expat Papa Duck, and his wife Anne, occurred recently. Papa D's lovely Filipina asawa was held by Macau police and had to appear before a judge. This event troubled my wife and I tremendously. Papa Duck has graciously allowed me to publish this story as a warning to other foreigners that might be planning to visit this Chinese-controlled territory.
Macau is one of the two special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. Macau lies on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong to the east, bordered by Guangdong province to the north and facing the South China Sea to the east and south.
The territory's economy is heavily dependent on gambling and tourism, but also includes manufacturing (source: Wikipedia.)
With Papa Duck's permission, here's the email my American expat friend sent me:
How are you doing? It was crazy in Macau. Last Saturday we took a ferry from Hong Kong to Macau. While Anne was going through immigration and they were looking at her passport they suddenly escorted her back to an immigration office. I didn't know what was going on.
After I finished with immigration I waited for Anne. No one would tell me what was going on. After about a half hour I asked what was going on with her. They called back to the office and next thing I know I was being escorted back to be with Anne. Anne said they accused her of being from Indonesia.
After about another half hour Anne was taken by the Judicial Police to their offices. I had to follow in a taxi. We spent 4 hours there. They interrogated her again accusing her of being Indonesian again and receiving 35000p from a Filipino back in 2008 when she was there visiting.
They went through her purse and luggage and even asked if she had a gun. They wouldn't even tell me what was going on. After they were done with her they gave her a notice to appear in court on Monday at 9:00am. She told them we had a flight out at 3:10pm.
So we arrived Monday at 8:15am, but they didn't call for her until about 9:25 am. She sat in an office until about 11:30am without anybody telling her anything. They then drove Anne and myself over to the Courts. They said they would expedite her to see the judge to receive clearance because her case was dropped and we had a 3:10pm flight to catch.
After sitting in the waiting room until 5:15pm and missing our flight, so much for expediting it, they finally called her in to see the Judge. She didn't get to see the Judge. A investigator said the charges were dropped because the Statute of Limitations had expired. That lasted less than 5 minutes.
I believe they intentionally made us wait so we would miss our flight. Well that was not they end of it. The Courts said the Judicial Police may still charge her even though they dropped the charges. The Police than said they were taking Anne to the investigators office to get clearance to leave. They would not allow me to go ride with her.
So the transporting officer gave me the supposed address to me in Chinese so the taxi driver could read it. It was a false address. I went to the airport to wait for Anne. I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know where she was.
They took her to the Immigration Building to hold her, trying to find something to charge her with. They asked for money from her.
She raised a ruckus. She told them I was going to the US Consulate and Philippine Consulate and that we were going to sue them. She just generally raised hell and they than released her.
They went through her purse and stole some US dollars and Singapore dollars. She had to leave by the 18th and she can never come back there again they said.
It was after midnight before I saw her at the airport. We got a flight out at 10:15 pm on the 17th on Cebu Pacific. Thought we would have problems again when we were leaving.
The immigration at the airport had to call and verify that the papers were true. Had to wait a half hour for that. The papers they gave her were in Chinese. Like she could really read that. We finally made it back at almost 1:00 am. We were glad to be back. I guess you can't expect anything different from a country run by China."
Folks, I can't imagine what I would have done if I was in Papa Duck's shoes. But what can you do? I certainly would have gone crazy with worry. There is no American Embassy in Macau, it is combined with the US Embassy in Hong Kong.
Kudos to Anne and Randy for keeping their heads. My wife and I are so glad they made it out safely. This whole terrible incident sounds like something out of "Locked Up Abroad." Thanks to Anne and Papa Duck for letting me publish this story which I plan to forward to the US Embassy in Manila. Planning to visit Macau? I wouldn't.