Monday, July 13, 2009

Wanita MCA: Home Ministry should expedite citizenship application

Press statement issued by Wanita MCA National Chairman Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun welcoming the announcement by Home Minister Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin bin Tun Hussein Onn of a decision on the fate of applicants for Malaysian citizenship

Wanita MCA welcomes the announcement by the Home Minister Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin bin Tun Hussein Onn to decide on the application for Malaysian citizenship for four categories i.e. applicants for permanent resident status; stateless children; those without birth certificates; and those without documents who are residing in Sabah and Sarawak. Wanita MCA urges the Home Minister to expedite the Ministry’s decision on granting Malaysian citizenship on humanitarian grounds.

Citizenship for “stateless” Malaysians
Wanita MCA is deeply concerned that many residents born in Malaya before our country’s independence in 1957 have still not been issued with a blue MyKad. There are also cases of red MyKad holders who were born in 1965 during the separation of Singapore and Malaysia, and owing to technicalities, have not been granted Malaysian citizenship. These residents who call Malaysia home are loyal, law-abiding people who pay taxes and contribute to the nation’s development.

Equally worrisome are the scores of indigenous children living in rural areas in the Peninsular or in the deep interiors of Sabah and Sarawak, and children born in estate plantations whose births have not been recorded and no birth certificate issued. The women’s wing of MCA strongly urges the National Registration Department to expedite the documentation of births and issuance of Malaysian citizenship to these very deserving cases.

Right of stay of foreign spouses
A forum on foreign spouses in Malaysia on 5 Jun 09 organised by Wanita MCA raised awareness on long-standing challenges faced by foreign spouses, both foreign wives and husbands and also children of a foreign parent.

Foreign wives/husbands encounter challenges in terms of social visit pass, spousal visa, permanent residency and citizenship. The process to renew spousal visa and, application for residency and citizenship is often cumbersome as the visa needs to be renewed annually with the mandatory presence of the sponsor of a foreign spouse which is usually the Malaysian female or male citizen.

The mandatory presence of the sponsor is particularly problematic with cases involving domestic violence as women are placed at the mercy of their husbands where they may have to continue enduring violence in their home for fear of being deported. Compounding this would be if they have children who are born in Malaysia and the foreign wife would fear having to be deported without her children. Or in situations where their husband disappears or in the case of divorces, and they face real risk of deportation without a sponsor. Thus, foreign wives may be stranded here in Malaysia for she may not be able to bring home her children due to financial constraints and her children need to stay in Malaysia since they are Malaysia citizens.

Wanita MCA also urges the Home Ministry to look into the predicament faced by foreign husbands. Current consideration of a foreign husband’s citizenship application is based on a case-to-case basis at the discretion of the Minister. However, this right to citizenship is not stipulated for any foreign husband of a Malaysian. On the grounds of gender equality, a foreign husband’s application for citizenship should be considered on an identical basis as that of a foreign wife.

Citizenship for children
Children who are born to Malaysian women and her foreign spouse are not entitled to citizenship. This is because Malaysian women are not accorded equal rights to confer citizenship to her children if they were to be born outside of Malaysia (UNHCR 2002; WCC statement Apr 2008 citing New Straits Times, 25 Apr 2008). Evidently there is double standard where a Malaysian father could confer citizenship to his child(ren) irrespective of the place of birth.
Similarly in the case where the marriage between a Malaysian citizen and his/ her spouse is not registered in Malaysia, their child(ren) when born would be recorded as “non citizen” in the birth certificate.

Wanita MCA is of the view that all children whose one parent is Malaysian is entitled to citizenship whether born in Malaysia or overseas. Children born prior to the registration of marriage should also have equal rights to citizenship.

By improving the quality of family life of Malaysian citizens, this is consistent with the “1 Malaysia” vision, which is inclusive of non-Malaysian spouses.

4 comments:

Aileen Oon Lay Wah, PJK said...

Quite a large number of foreign wives suffer in Malaysia so it is high time we highlight their sufferings and help overcome their problems. In one case,this domestic violence victim, a foreign wife and mother of 5 Malaysian kids is still without PR after 11 years of marriage had been enduring the painful assaults,abuse and mental torture by her husband and in-laws for a number of years.Living with fears of being deported and losing the kids topped with financial problems,it is a wonder this wonderful mum survived.Now she's lucky as aid came from a women's organisation to save,fight for her rights and protect her.Most importantly,her loved ones overseas should know her condition here.Delivery or medical charges for them in government hospitals should be the same as other Malaysians.Well,thanks Datin Paduka Chew for voicing out women and children issues and trying to make a change in government policies.Hopefully Wanita MCA can work hand in hand with women organisations to help those who are suffering silently.

Bina said...

For years Foreign spouses married to Malaysians, have been residing in the country on yearly visas, requiring the Malaysian spouse to be present even for renewal of visas. This makes the non-citizen spouse especially women to be vulnerable and dependent on her Malaysian spouse, creating an unhealthy situation in cases of marital dispute.

Furthermore foreign spouses have difficulties even to avail vital and basic necessities such as employment and healthcare. Only few of the highly educated non-citizen spouses were able to secure work-permits, as there were many restrictions to work. Pre-requisites such as securing employment only in companies having a paid up capital of RM250K, made it difficult for this group to be employed.

Many of the foreign spouses who are non-professionals could not even secure work-permits, thus depriving them of their rights to livelihood and their families of reasonable standards of living.

Additionally foreign spouses have to pay double charges for healthcare in government hospitals, even to deliver our Malaysian children. Woe if you are a housewife, for opening an individual bank account is near impossible.

Futhermore being foreigners, employers of these spouses need not pay EPF and they cannot even come under SOCSO, many could not even secure insurance and remain depended on their Malaysian spouses even in their golden (future) years.

Though on paper it is said that spouses who remain in the country for 5 years, can apply for Permanent Resident Status, in practice the process takes years.

We do hope that the Home Minister will also implement clear guidelines and policies with regard to the application and approvals of Permanent Resident Status for the Non-citizen spouses of Malaysians.

We are sincerely thankful to the Honourable Minister and welcome his efforts to personally clear all pending applications.

Bina Ramanand
Foreign Spouse Support Group

Agnes said...

Thank you, Datin Chew. I am just one of the number making up of the statistic in foreign wives.

I have been married to my husband for more than 10 years and am currently living in Malaysia and waiting to qualify to apply for PR, with still 2 more years to go as I only started the process 3 years ago for long term social visit pass.

Even despite everyone I know telling me, it is mission impossible, why do you want a PR from Malaysia, and reading all about the ordeals of foreign spouse, and even experiencing myself firsthand.

Issues such as

My saving account in Malaysia has to be a external account.

A fixed deposit of just $10000.00 earning the little 2% interest which I open with my husband need special permission to be approved.

The house which I am also working towards to serve the loan need to pay extra $10000.00 to the Johor government and need special permission from Foreign Investment Committee to approve.

I have no ID card and cannot use my country ID card, so I have to carry my passport around with me. I need to change my passport 2 times a year at my home country as I travel frequently and visit Malaysia immigrating 3 times a year at least for passport transfer of stamp and renewal of my social visit pass. 5 days of leaves per year just for this, then after which start the process of updating the bank of my new passport number, etc.

All these are non-issues in my home country, as my husband has ID card, is given PR within 6 months, can open account in bank without special permission even before he is a PR, can buy government subsidized housing without extra penalty, no special permission is required at all and no additional charges.

Of course, my husband does prefer his home country and want me to follow him home. But really, this road back home is not easy and welcoming. I do not expect to get VIP treatment just for marrying a citizen, just to be allowed to stay with my husband and have a simple home is all I want.

Back of my mind, I am also concern that if one day something will to my husband, what will happen to me? Surely, I must sell my home and return to my home country and all these are just temporary arrangement.

So surely one can imagine when I am really old and such thing happen as nature does and I am not the first to go, then imagine I have to go back home and start all over at old age! Seriously, what silly things people are willing to do when they are in love!

Phil said...

Form N-400 is the application for obtaining US Citizenship (naturalization). The Form N-400 is used by Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders) over the age of 18 who meet the eligibility requirements to apply for Citizenship. A completed Form N400 (Citizenship Application) has to be filed along with photos and supporting documents. A green card holder who is above 18 years of age and meets other eligibility requirements can file N400 form. Becoming a U.S. citizen has many advantages including the right to vote and the ability to sponsor relatives to come to the United States.