WHAT did my mother do to deserve the punishment of being separated by more than 2,000km from her sons? She had been living in Malaysia for the past 19 years and in all that time, she was a law-abiding foreigner.
On Friday last week, she was forced to leave Malaysia under the reason of diusir keluar (deported).
She also had to pay a fine before she was deported. She told me this was her first time in 19 years to spend Good Friday and Easter Sunday in Manila, Philippines.
Due to an unregistered marriage, she was not allowed to stay in Malaysia for a long period as she did not qualify for a social visit visa.
She had been exiting Malaysia and entering Singapore every month for the first few years in order to get a temporary entry stamp. After that, she was able to get a monthly special pass which she had to renew at the Immigration Department’s office in Kuala Lumpur.
Under the discretion and kindness of the past director-general of the Immigration Department, she was allowed to apply for the short-term social visit pass under the category “widow of citizen” as her children were still young.
Unfortunately, in November 2017, her visa (which she had been renewing successfully for the past 10 years) was mercilessly cancelled.
She was forced to exit Malaysia to get a short-term visa from the Malaysian embassy in Manila before she could even enter Malaysia again. She applied for a visa to enter Malaysia for the second time this year.
At the KL International Airport’s immigration counter, her passport was stamped for a 30-day stay even though the visa provided for 60 days. This is the first time the immigration service short-changed her, as she was allowed 60 days in the past to enter Malaysia.
She was deemed as having overstayed for following the validity of the visa instead of the days stamped on her passport. Isn’t it absurd that although her visa was valid, she was still deemed as having overstayed?
There is so much uncertainty when dealing with government agencies.
Different officers say different things. Our investigation officer (IO) and officer-in-charge of processing her exit pass told her that she would not be blacklisted. Feeling unsure, she called 1MOCC (603-8000 8000) and was told she had been blacklisted.
The immigration officer at KLIA also told her that she would be blacklisted for at least one month and would need a letter of authorisation (surat kebenaran) from Putrajaya to enter Malaysia next time.
I blame myself for misinterpreting the validity date of her visa, which caused her to suffer such hardship. I blame myself, a stateless young adult who has never held a passport before, for not knowing how the immigration service works.
A few days ago, my colleague asked me: “Don’t you feel homesick? You’ve come so far from Perak to work in Kuala Lumpur.”
I replied that I do not have a place to call home, and that I only get to see my mother four months a year.
I lose sleep every night thinking about the next course of action, and wake up every day hoping that everything I have gone through is just a dream.
I wish I could leave Malaysia and stay with her in the Philippines so that she wouldn’t need to endure so much hardship and shed so many tears.
But I am grateful for everything that I have today. By the grace of God and the kindness of others, I could live to see today’s sunrise.WONG YEW LEE