you are of the right race, or well-connected with the powers that be. That's Malaysia - certain things remain unchanged yet many things can be arranged if you know who or how. Met a trader at the Sunday market with a wrist guard and when asked, he jokingly said because of the large amount of money he received 'under the table' which sprained his wrist!
Thirty years ago, a former classmate of mine came back to Malaysia from UK with her Thai husband. I was told he was given 24 hours to leave, not sure because of his nationality or the fact that he married a Malaysian or simply the immigration officer did not like his face! Since then, we have heard of foreign spouses who complained of having to visit the dreaded immigration department yearly, unable to work, and so on.
A close friend, ex-classmate since Stardard One, has a Thai wife. He worked in Malaysia as an accountant and put off by similar hassle, migrated to Australia. I wonder whether people like Marina Mahathir has to face similar problems, though I believe she is the type who would not make use of her connections. But it also depends on the perception of the people who dealt with her, whether they treated her preferentially.
I am prompted to write after reading the following letter spotted in Malaysia Today:
Life of a foreign spouse in Malaysia
Posted by Vineeth Menon
Wednesday, 09 April 2008
There is a huge group of us – spouses of Malaysian Citizens, languishing here in Malaysia primarily because of the treatment meted out by the Government which treats spouses almost as bad as illegal immigrants.
Would you believe that there are many of us here, for 12-20 years still on a dependent pass or an employment pass? We are Permanent Residents in waiting for years and even decades. For foreign spouses in Malaysia it becomes near impossible securing jobs, because the government fails to provide adequate measures of good governance for them. The law if any, is so grey that it varies in interpretation from immigration officer to officer.
Many of us even have to resort to merely doing volunteer service, though it is a necessity to be an income earner. Some of us lucky ones manage to get an employment pass on the spouse visa, however not many employers are prepared to employ a foreign spouse due to the tedious paperwork. Yes ofcourse only employers with a paid up capital of over RM200K can employ us. Many even exploit us and pay some measly sum as token salary. Believe us, it is faster to get an employment pass for our domestic maid, than for ourselves – the spouses of a Malaysian Citizen. When we wish to change jobs, there is a cooling off period to cool our heels for six months. Life in Malaysia is near traumatic for us and here's more..
We have to pay double charges in Government hospitals even when we are delivering Malaysian citizens. We have to pay fees of foreigners to study in Public University. Even when we visit KLCC Aquarium we pay tourist rates, while the rest of our family pay differently even though we are more Malaysian than most Malaysians!!
We have to carry our passports wherever we go, however students, workers and not mistakenly even domestic maids get an icard – such is the treatment for spouses of Malaysian Citizens. A housewife cannot even open an account in some of the Banks, we cannot deposit money through the ATM because our bank account is called an external account.
Oh wait, we forgot to mention the yearly visits to the Immigration – infact it is a joke of sorts amongst spouses, that the "Immigration Department is our Second Home!!"
Long waits, irrespective of infants in our hands, I have seen families travelling from various states to Putra Jaya just to get a spouse visa. By the way we have to be accompanied by our spouses to the Immigration department when the submission is being done, this process can take up to 6-7 hours, more often for submission and approval it takes several visits, never mind that the spouse has just given a declaration that we are still married in front of the commission of oaths.
Why is this section of people so neglected? We take care of our Malaysian families, the future Malaysian generation, yet we are a forgotten segment of Malaysian society.
Husbands of Malaysian women have it even worse, so also we understand that Chinese spouses are not even allowed to apply for PR status. I was told that I was really privileged to even be allowed to submit my document, being a non-chinese!!!
It was shocking to hear this from a civil servant!! Many have left the country in sheer frustration.
At one point, during my interview for PR status, I was asked to leave the room and the lady questioned my husband of 16 years "who was the one to initiate the PR process? was it your wife or yourself?" Is this relevant? When I have children in secondary school? One of the reasons we are told that the process is so lengthy is because of the mis-use by people, to gain PR status.
We are spouses of Malaysians, we are here at such a cost because our spouses do not want to reside in our home country even though prospects there are better. For this sense of patriotism what extent of trouble and hardship the Malaysian Government enforces on our families? Many of us are highly educated and are professionals, and we cannot even get jobs here, so why would we undergo so much hardship for so many years? Only for our families.
Only in Malaysia are we treated to such a circus. This is the 21st Century and will the Home Ministry seriously look into this matter as there are thousands who are waiting to get their Permanent Resident Status. Notwithstanding the stories we hear that in Sabah and Sarawak, many illegals and foreigners are given PR status very easily. If the Minister is only approving authority for PR, and only few approvals per month, and a few at a time, there are a few thousands still waiting, something is very wrong in the system then. We also know that priority is given by the Government for those applying for the more lucrative "Malaysia my Second Home"
In this is a global environment, where travel is so much easier and national boundaries are getting more seamless. The Home Ministry and Immigration should look into its policies and engage itself with more modern policies and practices that reflect good governance. It is only appropriate that spouses of Malaysians should be given fair status and have reasonable rules and regulations.
If the Minister wishes to reply here, I can say without hesitation that YM Raja Petra Kamarudin will publish the answer on this site, for this is a site that encourages debate, discussion and good governance.
From: Fifteen Years and still waiting for PR
How should we judge a government?
In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!
"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X
Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain
Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham
"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan