LETTER

No guidelines for PR status?

Unhappy Citizen

Published
Modified 28 May 2008, 8:25 am

I refer to the letter Ordeal of foreign spouses in Malaysia .

I am a Malaysian citizen with a foreign wife of Indonesian nationality. We have been married for nine years and have three children. My wife has been holding a social visit pass for nine years. We returned to Malaysia from overseas in 1998.

Three years ago I applied for her Permanent Resident status after having fulfilled the conditions by the immigration department (that she must hold a social visit pass for five years). Until today we are still waiting for news on the status of her PR application. All we have ever got was a letter from the immigration stating that her application is ‘under consideration’. This took two and a half years - just for one letter!

We are among the thousands of Malaysians with foreign spouses who are still waiting for their PR. Why does the government take so long to process an application? Why is the Malaysian government so reluctant to grant PR status to foreign spouses?

A few years ago, the Human Resources Ministry announced that overseas Malaysian citizens who were experts in their field and wanted to return to Malaysia would be given incentives -including approval for the spouse's PR status in six months. When I inquired about this from the Human Resource Ministry, they told me that I am not eligible for this programme since

I came back to Malaysia before the program was started. To me, this is just utter nonsense.

If the government is worried about the ‘brain-drain’, shouldn't the powers-that-be be doing something about professionals like myself who are already in the country? Should I leave the country for two years and then come back? It would be utter irony as in this way I would then be eligible for having my wife's PR application fast-tracked.

At the same time, our government seems to prefer giving PR status to suspected terrorists from a neighbouring country. We have even given PR status to a badminton coach. This is blatantly unfair to people in my situation.

In this nine years of living in Malaysia, my wife has seen her opportunities for a career disappear like smoke. Prospective employers are generally turned off when they hear that she is a foreigner as they don't want the hassle with the paperwork.

She gave up looking for a job related to her qualifications years ago. My wife has an MBA in Finance. We are not alone in this as there are so many qualified foreign wives (degree holders) who have difficulties getting employment.

The list doesn't stop here - without a PR status, my wife cannot even open a bank account.

Even then, what if something were to happen to me? Because of the social visit pass requirements, she would not even be allowed to stay in this country. What will happen to our three children then?

Nowadays I don't even discuss the PR issue with my wife anymore as we would just end up in an argument. Why has the government allowed this dilemma to continue? I am willing to bet that most people in the same situation as myself voiced their dissatisfaction at the ballot box on March 8.

There are really no guidelines besides requiring your spouse to stay in the country for five years.

After that, it is just up to the whims and fancies of the government. Even the arrogant immigration officer at Shah Alam told me once that the ‘PR is an anugerah (award) and not a hak (right). Why doesn't the government put in place proper guidelines for approving PR applications? It seems to me that the little napoleons are the ones running the show.

I have even tried calling the immigration office at Putrajaya. Their response was that ‘the PR applications from year 2000 are still pending, so just wait. There is no time line given for PR approvals’.

In Singapore, qualified applicants get their PR status in three months. In Australia, it takes less than a year. Our government, on the other hand, is doing nothing to solve the PR issue for thousands of Malaysians.

I am wholeheartedly appealing to our prime minister, since he claimed to be a prime minister for all Malaysians to please intervene in this situation. If our prime minister is serious about winning back our confidence, then do something.

Share this story