More humane policy need for widowed/divorced foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens

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It is time that foreign spouses be treated as a part of the Malaysian family framework, considering that they are key caregivers and providers, writes the Foreign Spouses Support Group.

At the Immigration Department
Photograph: amdtaufik.com

With increased globalisation, transnational marriages are more widespread, necessitating a more humane policy for foreign spouses of Malaysian citizens.

Income earned by us foreign spouses is spent on our Malaysian families within the country and there is no ringgit outflow to other countries. One has to bear in mind that this category of migrant spouses have children and spouses who are Malaysians, having lived in Malaysia for years and even decades, giving up their rights in their own homelands.

Our thanks go out to the Home Minister, who cleared a huge backlog of Permanent Resident (PR) applications; however the policy of spouses who are faced with domestic violence or who are estranged, divorced or widowed needs immediate consideration in view of their vulnerability and their dependency on their sponsors.

Due reflection should be given to the fact that these spouses are parents of their Malaysian children and have lived in Malaysia for years. When faced with separation or death of their Malaysian spouses, their visas and right to livelihood are severely restricted, which exposes the Malaysian family to very traumatic conditions.

Do bear in mind that these non-Malaysian parents are already coping with the stress of loss or separation from their spouses and now will have to face the additional burden of very unstable visa conditions. Should the custody of the children go to the Malaysian parents, the non-Malaysian spouses are faced with the prospect of having to leave the country and not having access to the children.

Widowed or divorced non-Malaysian spouses may have the custody of their children but on a tenuous six-month visa, which prohibits them from employment in Malaysia. How are they then to provide for their children and themselves? This deprives the family of stability, their right to livelihood and a life of dignity.

Spouses have difficulties claiming the assets of their deceased Malaysian spouses due to their visa status and inability to support themselves while waiting for the asset administration. It is believed upon the death of a spouse, even their PR application get withdrawn. This is further compounded when even children upon attaining age 21 years are unable to apply for PR for their non-Malaysian parent. Therefore these foreign spouses will have to remain in this country on six-month visas until death. Remember that one cannot seek employment on the six-month visa.

Many of us spouses have been living in Malaysia for decades, Malaysia is our first home, we hardly have family and support systems back in our home countries.

Please do understand our situation, our vulnerability and provide a policy of granting Permanent Residence taking into account the best interest of the family.

The writer is the coordinator of the Foreign Spouses Support Group

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Ahmad
Ahmad
24 May 2013 7.13pm

It seems Mr. Chai , there are some other reasons too … Which made your wife to leave . You should not have put your EPF account 1 money in your wife account . (Seems you are above 55).i am unable too understand how some one can take your insurance money??? I don’t know you so I should not judge you or any one.

co-ordinator foreign spouses support group
co-ordinator foreign spouses support group
6 Apr 2013 12.48pm

Thank you for sharing Mr Chai, we are very sorry for your unhappy situation. We do of course try to speak with both parties, to ensure we get a complete picture.

najib manaukau
4 Apr 2013 1.48pm

Just become muslims, simple as that, but there is hope now with the GE !

chai
3 Apr 2013 10.42pm

To the Foreign Spouses Support Group. It is good to have someone like you to help those who needed. But from my 16 years of marriage with a foreign women is a nightmare. Me and my 4 daughters don`t even know WHY she leave us. you talk about abtaining visa. she just got her PR, and she disappear within a month from the day the MYPR card issued. and she is not the only one doing that in my town . I`m not saying all the foreign spouses are bad. But if you really want to help them, make sure you have all the information about them in detail, or else you might be fool/ us by them. Of the 16 years all my money from the hard earning, my insurance, my EPF 1st account, cash from my safe and my daughter bank saving with her name as guardian. gold , jewelries. all gone. now i`m in heavy debt. What if she suddenly turn up asking you to help her to get custody of our daughter? you must check their culture background. If she get our… Read more »

Abdou
Abdou
6 Apr 2013 1.02pm
Reply to  chai

Mr. Chai ur story sound like one sided story … someone who lived with you for 16 years n u don’t know her well? there must be a reason behind what she did if it’s true … you claim that we should do background check first ?! do we need 16 years as per your case to know our husbands/wife better?? and i don’t think her culture background is more or less differ than yours because you managed to live together for a long time. and for the record foreign spouse have the right as humans to support their families and live beside them without being worried about visa and so on….