I am a Singaporean who has been living in China for the past few years. Recently, while on holiday in San Francisco in the United States, my family and I were robbed of our valuables. We lost all our cash, passports and China resident visas.

We tried getting official paperwork from the police and other relevant authorities.

My husband, a Dutch citizen, received immediate support and was able to apply for an “emergency passport”. I was not as privileged. The Singapore Consulate-General issues only a “document of identity” for those whose passports are stolen.

This document is a piece of paper with a stamp, a signature of the consul and a photograph of the applicant. It seems it is not recognised by any other airport authority or government and, to make matters worse, is valid only for direct entry to Singapore.

What about citizens like me who live overseas? I was forced to buy a ticket back to Singapore.

I was also stopped at the ticket counter in San Francisco, and at Hong Kong immigration for three hours, while on transit to Singapore. I felt like a criminal even after multiple explanations and a call to the Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong.

I am disappointed by the consular support provided to me.

If I could have been issued a temporary emergency passport, I would have been able to continue my journey, and not incur further losses and suffer at the hands of immigration officials.

Ms Lena Hiro Gidwani

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