John Harding’s book, Escape from Paradise – Paperback and Kindle Versions


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It took me two and a half evenings to complete your un-put-downable book...it is a unique contribution to the appreciation of a life in Singapore. Thank you for having written it. C. V. Devan Nair, former President of Singapore.

Bought the book from Select this weekend and can't put it down! It's a great read! And so nostalgic for me—the good old days! Glen Goei, writer and director of the Miramax film That's the Way I Like It and who played the title role opposite Anthony Hopkins in the London production of M. Butterfly. Mr. Goei's latest film is The Blue Mansion - Click for the trailer!

It is a remarkable story and so full of intrigue that it reads at times like fiction.Jonathan Burnham, Editor in Chief & President, Talk Miramax Books.

“It's quite a story The legendary Alice Mayhew, Vice-President & Editorial Director, Simon & Schuster.

This book out-Dallas, Dallas. No one has written so well of the other side of paradise,Francis T. Seow, former Solicitor General of Singapore

Escape from Paradise – the Promotional Trailer

Other writing samples

The INS and Its Strange Bedfellows

(A true event – by John Harding)

October 17, 1980 was a great day for us; it was the day my wife, Patrizia, received her green card. The brief ceremony took place at 8:30 in the morning in the Immigration and Naturalization office in Los Angeles.

Dorothy Anaya, the INS agent in charge of the case, smiled as she put the official stamp on Patrizia’s passport, which stated, “TEMPORARY EVIDENCE OF LAWFUL ADMISSION FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCE.”

Ms. Anaya also gave us a letter, signed by INS District Director, Joe D. Howerton, as further proof of my wife’s new status, and explained cheerfully that my wife’s green card would be mailed to our home, and that might take some time.

This happy event was prelude to a twenty-year ordeal.

In September 1982, I took my wife and our two sons to visit her parents in Rome, Italy. Since my wife’s green card had never arrived, despite my numerous inquiries to the INS, I went to the American Consulate in Rome, just to make sure my wife’s passport was in order for our return trip home. The Consular official took a short look, said everything was in order as my wife was a permanent resident, and issued a re-entry visa, “just as a formality.”

On November 26, 1981, my wife received a telephone call from the INS Rome office telling her, that, after providing her with the re-entry visa, a telex had been sent to the INS office in Los Angeles, where it had been determined that she could no longer return to the U. S. as her permanent residence had never been granted.

We rushed to the American Consulate where we were ushered to the desk of Immigration Officer, George Summerville. He told us that my wife’s permanent residence was “not in the computer,” and that the stamp in her passport was probably a “forgery.”

Our explanation that the passport had been stamped by Dorothy Anaya at the Los Angeles INS office carried no weight at all with George Summerville. He obviously knew better. That evening, I fired off a telex to INS District Director Howerton in Los Angeles telling him that his letter and Dorothy Anaya’s stamp were considered to be forgeries by the INS in Rome.

We now faced the prospect that my wife might never be allowed to return to the United States.

Fortunately, we received another invitation to visit Mr. Summerville. He had a deal for us. In return for my wife’s giving him her Italian passport, he would issue a “parole document,” an ominous-sounding piece of paper which would permit her reentry into the United States.

“Huh?” I said, as respectfully as I could muster, “Mr. Summerville, sir, you know, sir, it is very difficult for Italian citizens to leave Italy without an Italian passport.”

“No problem, we have a ‘man’ at the airport,” answered Summerville, using his fingers to put quote marks around “man.”

Edging slowly forward on my chair, I asked, in a small voice, “And Mr. Summerville, sir, what is a parole document, sir?”

“Oh, nothing-just means your wife is on parole in the States for ninety days.”

“And, sir, what happens after ninety days?”

Well, either they let her stay, or she’s gotta leave. You’ll need to bring in a passport photograph of,” Summerville paused looked at my wife, and then continued, “ . . . of her, then we’ll call ya when the document’s ready.”

We delivered the photograph, and, two weeks later, Summerville handed my wife her parole document. It was a single piece of paper, on a Department of Justice letterhead, with her photograph, several signatures, a stamp, and the typed-in stipulation:

“Paroled pursuant to Section 212(d)(5) strictly in the public interest for a period of 90 days. Authority: Telephone conversation between DD/RIT and CORAP of December 3, 1982.”

“Thank you, Mr. Summerville, sir,” I said, wondering if we were headed for home in Los Angeles, or for jail.

Shortly after our return to Los Angeles, I was contacted by the INS Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), in the person of Acting Regional Director Ralph F. Paige.

Would we be willing to meet him “in the New Otani Hotel? It’s in the Japanese section of downtown Los Angeles.”

“Of course, Mr. Paige, sir.”

“How’s January 11th at 11:00am for you?”

“That’s fine, sir, should we meet you in the lobby?”

“No, we’ll meet in one of the guest bedrooms,” Paige said, giving the room number.

At the appointed hour, we stood in the stark hallway of the New Otani Hotel for several seconds, before I felt ready to knock on the guest-room door.

“Yes?” shot through the door.

“I’m here to meet a Mr. Paige.”

The door was opened by a thin nondescript young man of medium height in a dark suit. Just what you would expect. His neat appearance drew my attention to the fact that his jacket was unbuttoned-ready for the quick draw, no doubt.

The curtains were drawn and the room was lit by only what little light could seep through the curtains. In the darkness, sat another nondescript, but slightly older man, in a dark suit-jacket buttoned.

“I’m Paige,” came his voice from the penumbra.

“Yes Mr. Paige. I’m John Harding, and this is my wife, Patrizia.”

The unbuttoned jacket pointed us to the sofa, where we took our places. We were ready to hear anything, but what Paige had to say exceeded all expectations.

In a slow, confident voice, Paige told us that Dorothy Anaya had committed some “irregularities” at the INS, had been indicted, and was going to stand trial.

After a pause for that to sink in, Paige asked, “Did Anaya ask you for a bribe?”

“No, she didn’t, Mr. Paige,” I answered.

“I’m surprised she didn’t approach you. Did you give her a bribe?”

“No, of course not!”

“Is the reason you didn’t give her a bribe the fact that she did not ask you for one?” asked Paige, leaning forward out of the gloom.

“No.”

Paige finished off the meeting by telling us that my wife’s passport was being sent to the FBI for tests of ink and fingerprints, and would we be willing to testify at Anaya’s trial?

“Of course, Mr. Paige,” we chanted in unison.

We never saw Mr. Paige again.

Did my wife ever receive her green card, or become a permanent resident? No. The INS had removed from us all the proof we had-her Italian passport and the confirming letter from INS District Director, Joe D. Howerton.

In the strict legal sense, Italian passports are very difficult to replace.

However, Italy is a place where nothing is impossible. We had friends at the Italian Consulate, and my wife was able to get a new Italian passport, quite easily. Viva Italia!

We solved the problem of my wife’s not being able to reside in the United States, by not loving it, but leaving it. I got a job in Saudi Arabia, and, after that, in Singapore.

The years had gone by, but, in Singapore, I had a nagging feeling that I should not leave well enough alone. On October 4, 1988, I wrote a letter to Paige requesting my wife’s passport, and asking what had happened to Dorothy Anaya.

Being in a particularly aggressive mood (the product of being out of reach in a foreign country), I resorted to that last act of the desperate-the Freedom of Information Act, sending out individual request to six of the government agencies involved.

Robert T. Castonguay, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Laboratory, was the first to respond stating that the FBI “did not locate any record” of the passport. “Thus,” continued Castonguay, “if the passport had been sent to the FBI Laboratory, it would have been returned with a report showing the results of the examination.” Logical? Castonguay wrote those words when the FBI still had a reputation to maintain.

Now, we all know about the FBI and its laboratories.

Next, I received a letter from Paige. He wrote, “Thank you for resurrecting this matter.” Good Ralph; I bet that hurt!

“A new and diligent search for your wife’s passport was conducted and the passport was located. It is enclosed herewith.”

After six years, my wife finally had her passport back, important because it had our younger son’s record of birth stamped in it.

End of story-not quite. What happened to Dorothy Anaya?

On February 7, 1989, the INS sent the answer, “pursuant to your Freedom of Information Act request . . . Immigration examiner Dorothy Anaya was successfully criminally prosecuted with two other co-conspirators, Robert Anaya and Alfred Lin. The Anayas were convicted in a jury trial on August 26, 1986, of nineteen counts of bribery and aiding and abetting and false statements in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California . . . The Anayas were sentenced on 10-26-86 to four years imprisonment each and fined in excess of $500,000 . . . The last known address OPR had for Dorothy Anaya was care of the Federal Correctional Institution, Pleasanton, CA.”

Patrizia and I have parted ways.

I have a new life and a wonderful new wife, May, a Singaporean.

There’s only one small problem. Yes, you guessed it-she needs a green card.

Once again, I went through the arduous application process, followed by the long wait for the INS interview and the granting of permanent resident status.

I enjoy surfing the Internet. One quiet evening at home, I entered “Dorothy Anaya” into Google. Up popped a link to the Albuquerque Journal obituary advertisements of June 26, 2000, stating, “Robert C. Anaya, born March 25, 1938, in Albuquerque, NM, passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada on Thursday, June 22, 2000 at age 62. Robert is survived by his wife of 26 years, Dorothy Anaya of Nevada.”

I read on, “ . . . Later he entered the U.S. Immigration Service as a Border Patrol Agent, Deportation Officer, and Supervisory Criminal Investigator. Recently, he opened two offices in Las Vegas, Nevada where he was the Senior Legal Assistant.”

Could these be my Anayas? Do they leave prison records out of the obits?

Next, I asked Google about “Robert C. Anaya.”

Wow!

Up popped a picture of Robert C. Anaya standing in front of his Las Vegas sign reading “Immigration Aid,” a company which has a mission: “We provide experienced lawyers and assistance for “do it yourself service, all immigration forms, translations, notary services, and more.” Did the Anayas switch sides from selling green cards to buying them?

A trip via the Internet to Immigration Aid’s corporate records showed that Dorothy Anaya was with the company.

Once burnt by my previous experience with the INS, and seeing that Dorothy Anaya was again at large, I sent a letter to Senator McCain telling him about the Anayas, telling him “I have located Dorothy Anaya. Apparently, her husband, Robert Anaya, also imprisoned, died last year while running an immigration service company.

“I will be asking Dorothy Anaya if there is any other reason for the loss of the green card other than claimed by the INS. (It took five years and an FOIA request to have my wife’s passport returned, and why?)

“By acting on my own, I may have some chance of keeping the INS “honest,” at least this time around…”

Senator McCain got my vote when he answered my letter, stating, “In an effort to be of assistance, I have contacted the Immigration and Naturalization Service. As soon as I receive an answer to my inquiry, you will be notified of your case status.”

I sent a copy of Senator McCain’s letter to our INS attorney-just in case.

Now we had a wonderful INS lawyer, who we really liked. She even invited us to a party at her house to celebrate her daughter’s birth. It was a great party; May Chu and I were even videotaped. Videotaped? We were also introduced to our lawyer’s mother-in-law, an Immigration Judge from Las Vegas. An Immigration Judge and from Las Vegas?

The letter to Senator McCain apparently had its effect, as our INS Interview came up sooner than expected; it was set for September 6, 2001, the day after Labor Day. We received this information on August 24, from our lawyer’s husband, as she was still out of the office on maternity leave. Her husband, also a lawyer, and son of the Las Vegas Immigration Judge, informed us that all we had to bring to the INS interview were our photo-ids. He assured me this was the case.

Then a strange thing happened. On Friday August 31, we received in the mail, direct from the INS a raft of forms to fill out for the INS interview, including the requirement for a medical examination.

Why, when the notice to our lawyer was sent out by the INS on August 22, 2001, did they wait until August 30 to send the forms to us?

Why the delay of eight days?

With Labor Day coming on Monday, we had only two business days to complete everything including the medical examination. We were in a state of panic.

On the day after Labor Day, our lawyer sent us an email stating, “First of all, as you know, we received the INS letter our last day of work before leaving for New York and I quickly faxed the letter to you. I was rushed on my last day of work and I did not notice that the letter was supposed to have attachments and did not.”

Fortunately, we made it, and the INS Interview was successful. My wife and my two stepsons were given temporary green cards. But why the eight-day delay and the misleading advice from our lawyer’s husband? Why did we never once hear directly from our lawyer?

My stepsons have now received their green cards.

Yes, you guessed right again, my wife has not.

My former wife’s green card problems were clearly due to the activity of Dorothy Anaya, but who would want to do anything to us now? Who?

My wife and I have written a book, entitled Escape from Paradise, From Third World to First-even the Singapore Supreme Court bought a copy. It’s the story of my wife’s escape from her arranged marriage from her former husband, Hin Chew Chung, a Chinese fugitive from Brunei to Singapore.

Out of necessity, there are some well-known people in the book, England’s Lord Chancellor, and the former CIA Chief of Station for Thailand (now a lobbyist for Burma in Washington). My wife is from the flamboyant Tiger Balm family, and her ex-husband is the owner of X-10, the cause of all those annoying pop-up ads on the Internet.

Of possible “enemies” created by the book, certainly, the ex-husband, who comes across in the book as a comic-reading abusive father and husband, would be the most likely to hold a grudge.

With my wife’s green card not arriving, I decided to collect some dots-with Nevada as my target.

From my good friends, Google, and the Internet site of the Secretary of State of Nevada, I found that Dorothy Anaya’s company, Immigration Aid, operates from two locations in Las Vegas, one on South Pecos Street, and the other on East Sunset Road.

Dorothy Anaya is listed at the South Pecos Street office, and her associate, Robert A. Koenig, a lawyer, is listed at the East Sunset Road office. Koenig is named as the resident agent, and it gets better.

Drilling down on Koenig I found a number of other people working at the South Pecos Street address: Marco Kavcic and Karina Serano of MKK Company LLC, Rafael Ramirez of TYP Group Ltd., Dorothy Anaya (again) of TERRALEX, Inc., Dorothy Anaya (still again) of Computer Components, Ltd. LLC, and Richard Chia-Chen Chang of Gintai International.

Saving the very best for last, also at the South Pico address, is Alfred Lin of Greenish Land Enterprises Ltd. Remember him? He was convicted along with the Anayas. I understand he’s from Singapore, the kind of a guy who could talk to Hin Chew, even send him videotapes for proof.

I have a mailbox at Mail Boxes, Etc., and the owners, Lois and Kent Bingham are great folks, and if it plays with the Binghams it’ll play anywhere.

Last week, February 14, 2002, as I was making photocopies at Mail Boxes, Etc, Lois approached me slowly, and, in whispered tones, said she had something to tell me.

“Uh-huh,” I said.

“I received a phone call here from a lady who told me her husband died last November 3rd.”

“Yes, Lois,” I continued with my copies.

“She said she found a card in her husband’s things-his card-and it had our address, here at Mail Boxes, on it.”

I nodded.

“She wanted to know if there was any mail for her dead husband here. Said his name was John Harding.”

That stopped my photocopy work, “Where did she call from Lois?”

“Nevada, and she had some sort of a foreign accent.”

Now you connect the dots