(Bukit Mertajam, Friday): Malaysians hope that with his appointment as the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will introduce a Home Ministry with a human face and institute reforms in the various departments which directly affect the lives of the people of Malaysia, like the Police, Immigration and Prison services.
This is of direct concern to the DAP nation-wide "Justice For All" campaign and this is why I call on Abdullah to end unfair and discriminatory immigration policies against foreign spouses of Malaysians, particularly Chinese wives from the People’s Republic of China.
It is most shocking that foreign spouses of Malaysians are treated worse than the two million legal and illegal immigrant workers in the country, which does not give Malaysia a good international reputation as a modern civil society.
At present, foreign wives of Malaysians can only stay in the country
on yearly renewable "social visit pass", which means that foreign
wives who live in
Malaysia with their husbands and children are only "visiting" in a "social" capacity. Foreign wives of Malaysian citizens cannot work with social visit passes until they become permanent residents.
This is inhumane and unfair to the foreign wives, who can be locked up and deported for overstaying if their husbands decide to abandon them and refuse to sponsor their yearly social pass application.
Malaysians whose wives are from the Chinese People’s Republic face even more discriminatory problems than foreign wives in general.
Malaysians who are married to Chinese wives from the People's Republic of China complain that while foreign wives of other nationals can usually stay on as long as their husbands sponsor their yearly renewal of social visit pass, Chinese wives are forced to leave Malaysia after every one year of stay in Malaysia for a six month period before returning to Malaysia on "social pass".
Some have small children and are forced to leave their families during the six months of no-entry period.
This is most unfair and discriminatory as it prevents these Chinese wives from becoming Malaysian citizens as the Malaysian Constitution requires a minimum of two years’ continuous stay without leaving Malaysia before a foreigner is qualified to apply for citizenship.
This has caused enormous economic, physical and emotional hardships to the affected couples who have chosen to get married and live in Malaysia.
During the six-month no-entry period, a Malaysian husband would be spending between RM20,000 to RM40,000 on airfares, living costs, telephone bills, travellers' visa to re-enter Malaysia, airfares between their Chinese wives' hometowns and Guanzhou or Beijing where the Malaysian Consulate and Embassy are situated respectively, hotel fees and other miscellaneous expenses.
Many of the Chinese wives are professionals and university graduates, who are not allowed to work because of the discriminatory immigration policy against them.
Unfair and discriminatory immigration policies are not confined to foreign
wives of Malaysians, but also apply to foreign husbands of Malaysians
which are even more harsh.
I call on Abdullah Badawi to end unfair and discriminatory immigration policies against foreign spouses of Malaysians regardless of gender and in particular the injustices meted out to Chinese wives from the People's Republic of China married to Malaysians, and to grant permanent residency status to all bona fide foreign spouses married to Malaysians.
The Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datin Paduka
Zaleha announced three days ago that an international conference to promote
family unity and love will be held in April. I hope she would
support the end of unfair and discriminatory immigration policies against
foreign spouses of Malaysians, as it will make a mockery of the international
conference on family unity and love when we have policies which undermine,
disrupt and even destroy family unity and love.