A day with redtape

This morning and part of the afternoon was spent at the Immigration Department today. I have no complaints about the department, especially when I remember what it was like all of forty-one years ago, in the old British colonial buildings with long ceiling fans moving the air about as much as a passing bumble bee.

Now it’s airconditioned and the staff are efficient and pleasant and helpful, the business is all done with in a day.

However, once a year my husband and I have to make this trek. Sixty kms there and 60 kms back and a whole morning plus. A payment as well, to get a stamp in my passport saying I am granted another year to stay in Malaysia with my husband of 44 years. Inevitably, one of the immigration dept staff will look thoroughly puzzled and ask why I haven’t got permanent residence. They – and who can blame them – really don’t want to be bothered with this couple turning up every year wasting their time and effort for…er…what?

It’s not their choice. It’s the wisdom of the registration department who decided I am some sort of undesirable. You see, I committed the “sin” of giving up my PR when my husband was seconded (by the government, mind you!!) to the UN. We were away almost 9 years. When I came back, I did all the right things and was finally, after a certain number of years, permitted to re-apply for PR. The application was turned down without explanation – and a “no correspondence will be entered into”. In other words, we aren’t going to tell you why. Maybe they just couldn’t think of a reason?

And so, we make our annual pilgrimage. Husband has to take time off from his (government) job and come with me because he has things to sign and has to do it in person.

But this cannot go on indefinitely. If my husband were to die before me, I’d be persona non grata and have to leave, possibly at very short notice.

And so one day, we will go elsewhere. My husband – a respected senior government officer with numerous government awards – will take his numerous skills and knowledge, and I will take my income (money which comes in on a regular basis from overseas – doing its little bit for the local economy!) and we will both go somewhere where I am welcomed, no matter what the future holds.

Neither of us understand why this has to be so.


A day with redtape — 8 Comments

  1. Bloody governments, bit like the problems we had emigrating although once here, we didn't have to renew or anything and after three years became Canadian citizens anyway.

  2. So is Adelaide, with the added advantage of cramming absolutely everything that's going to happen in the year into a month and a half, so there's no distractions for the rest of the year 😀

  3. The last part of your post reminds me of why I will never want to settle down in my own country, Malaysia. For some reason, I felt quite touched by that part. Malaysia is a jealous country that finds so many ways to keep people feeling unwelcome, except when they want your money (not that it is the only country in the world that is like this).

    As a Malaysian who has done a bit of traveling myself, I hope you settle down wherever you are welcome and happy. At this point, I don't think Malaysia is the place.

  4. Hisham – it makes me sad when I read things like your comment. People should feel comfortable in their own land. Yet in my street alone – a very short street – 4 unmarried Muslim girls from different families have left to live permanently overseas. Basically because as unmarried professionals in their late teens and 20s, they did not feel comfortable leading the life of single professional women – doctor, architect, scientist, in business. They are all Malays. One of them even decided age 14 that this was not the place for her!

    This is so sad. It's not a question of getting money abroad. It's a feeling that you cannot have certain opinions without society crushing you … It's the feeling of professional frustration too.

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