By nature and nurture I'm an inclusive man.
As a lad I recited the Scout's Law and learned to respect all "regardless of colour, class or creed." That I have rejected the military and organised religion aspects of the scouting movement has in no way removed the respect for my upbringing and how it colours my approach to life today.
Since then, I have 'fought the good fight' and done my best to right wrongs and to seek better solutions to societal ills.
But this polemic is not about me, but could be because I have a contented married life here in Indonesia, supporting 'Er Indoors, with her extended Batak family, and funding Our Kid's education with love and limited finances.
Neither of them have been to the UK; we rely on my British family to visit us.
But what if?
There is a granddaughter we have yet to meet and Our Kid hasn't met his aunt or great-grandfather, 93 last month. Could we visit them?
Could we heck!
It's not as if we would be seeking to settle: heaven forfend. The country is reverting to its imperialist past with WorkFare, a fancy name for what could be termed as indentured labour; masses of unemployed are being forced to work at menial jobs at the behest of private companies for below minimum wage levels – if paid at all.
To put it crudely, as a good friend did recently, "Instead of using the nig-nogs abroad, they're using the nig-nogs at home."
Those of us who have bi-national ties face forced exile under a proposed piece of legislation due to be presented to Parliament by the current 'feed the rich, exploit the poor' government.
The Guardian has reported the following: MPs have been told that British citizens with foreign-born partners are to be given the choice of indefinite "exile" in countries including Yemen and Syria or face the breakup of their families if they want to remain in the UK, under radical immigration changes to be announced next week,
The home secretary, Theresa May, is expected to confirm that she will introduce a new minimum income requirement for a British "sponsor" without children of up to £25,700 a year, and a stringent English speaking test for foreign-born husbands, wives or partners of UK citizens applying to come to live in Britain on a family visa.(Those of us with children would have to provide proof of a higher "income maintenance requirement" – up to £46,260 per annum.)
Immigration welfare campaigners say that the move will exclude two-thirds of British people – those who have a minimum gross income of under £25,700 a year – from living in the UK as a couple if they marry a non-EU national. They estimate that between 45% and 60% of the 53,000 family visas currently issued each year could fall foul of the new rules.
In all fairness, there is the right of appeal, an expensive process but …. hang on. Tucked away on the UK Border Agency website is this: A clause in the Crime and Courts Bill, published on the 10th May, will remove the full right of appeal for those applying to enter the UK as a family visitor (e.g. 'Er Indoors and our Kid). Subject to Parliamentary approval and Royal Assent, this change is expected to come into force by 2014. Refused applicants will still be able to appeal on limited grounds of human rights or race discrimination.
So, will that help British spouses trapped in, say, Syria or the Yemen, current hot spots of human rights abuses?
Furthemore, this month (June 2012) sees the introduction of secondary legislation which will tighten the family and sponsor definitions in family visit visa appeals. Subject to Parliamentary approval, these changes are expected to come into force in July 2012. Those applying to visit a cousin, uncle, aunt, niece or nephew will no longer have access to a full right of appeal, and to use that appeal right, the family member being visited in the UK must have settled, refugee or humanitarian protection status.
Does this mean that Our Kid will not have the right to visit his aunt, my sister?
A major problem which plagues many countries is the bureaucracy which is paid to put into practice the policies enacted by whichever government, national or local, employs them.
This is not the place to criticise the Indonesian Deparmen Imigrasi, but I am suggesting that the controversial UK Border Agency has several similar characteristics.
Except that here in Indonesia VFS Global, a commercial company, is working in partnership with the UK Border Agency at the British Embassy providing services to help people apply for a visa to enter the United Kingdom.
Your visa application will be processed and decided by UK Border Agency staff. VFS staff does not, play any part in or influence the outcome of your visa application. If VFS staff claims to be able to influence your application, you should notify in writing the Head of Visa Services at the British Embassy in Jakarta. You can find their address on the UK Border Agency in Indonesia website.
Except you can't. Try this page.
The governments of both the UK and Indonesia are elected to serve their citizens. For any government to abrogate its responsibilities towards its electors, and all those, such as children, who don't vote, is a gross violation of citizens rights.
Thus the UK's non-ministerial Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted), whose slogan is 'raising standards, improving lives' – note: somewhat appropriately, its their lower case, not mine – subcontract school inspections to a profit-orientated company called Tribal, which cuts and pastes their reports! And all this while the UK faces the deepest cuts and closures in education – from nurseries to universities, to libraries and museums – in my lifetime.
I am not arguing against private enterprise per se, but the world's economies are in a downward spiral because globalised capitalism funds itself through debt equity, whilst a few *ankers pay themselves excessive bonuses – and I'm including the UK Border Agency in this category. To avoid getting into debt, or in the case of Indonesia buying its way out of debt, countries ultimately end up bankrupting themselves through the selling off of natural resources, simultaneously enriching the greedy bastards at our expense by selling off public services to the highest, and in some cases the lowest bidder.
Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Professor at Columbia University, received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001 for research on the economics of information. Read what he says here about