Saturday, May 26, 2018

Foreign Spouses need to be immediately given PR?

Many Malaysians have married foreigners - but alas, the UMNO-BN government only was granting them long social visit visas(like tourist visas) which last one(1) year, and which need to be re-applied every year. They also cannot work in Malaysia unless they apply for an 'employment visa' just like other foreigners.

LOVE is something that one cannot dictate and as we no longer live in a closed community of Malaysians only, and we also travel a lot overseas for studies, work, etc - it is now a reality that Malaysians will fall in love with foreigners, and some will elect to marry.

When one marries, it also will mean being together, maybe even having children and also developing matrimonial property. Marriage really is not simply between A and B, in our Malaysian culture - but with it, it also brings about a commitment to parents and relatives, especially responsibility for the elderly. A child of a Malaysian parent is automatically a Malaysian citizen.

What happens now if the Malaysian spouse suddenly passes away? Under the UMNO-BN rule, that means the foreign spouse may not be able to continue to stay in Malaysia in the matrimonial home, continue carrying out the responsibilities to the parents/dependents of the Malaysian spouse, take care of their business and property, even be and look after children(if they do have children). When the 1 year visa expires, there may not be any other 1 year extension - so, the only way would be to travel in and out of Malaysia relying on tourist visas.

REASONABLY, on the registration of the marriage in Malaysia, the foreign spouse should immediately be granted a PR(Permanent Residency Status) - that will enable the foreign spouse the ability to continue to stay in Malaysia, and look after the matrimonial home and more importantly the parents/dependents of the now deceased Malaysian spouse. 

PR - not citizenship? Now, the government can at any time revoke the PR status, and this can be done if there is a need. One example is that the marriage was a 'sham' - a way of simply getting someone into Malaysia illegally or some other reasons that is reasonable.

MARRIAGE and family obligations is part of the Malaysian culture. It is wrong to think about marriage as just being something between 2 persons - and nothing to do with the families/dependents of one another.

RECENT DEVELOPMENT under the old UMNO-BN. Previously, after giving 1-year visas for a few years, the foreign spouse can get 3-year visas, and even 5-year visas...and after that can apply for PR Status. Well, it changed - now no more 3-year or 5 year visas, and for a longer visa or PR, apparently one of the requirement is that the foreign spouse must be able to converse in Malay. Learning a new language may be easy for some, but for many it is impossible. To be able to survive in Malaysia - well, for that one does not need Malay because a lot of Malaysians do understand English, Chinese and Tamil - and many Malaysians too, if the requirement is to be conversant in Malay, to be qualified for continued citizenship would most likely lose their citizenship. Look at GE14, why were the politicians campaigning using different languages if all Malaysians are fully conversant in Malay? Malaysian reality is many are not that fluent in Malay - they may just have an understanding of 'survival' Malay - and most Malaysians, thanks to our history and TV movies, are better in English and some other Malaysian languages.

For the best interest of the child, foreign spouses must be accorded PR immediately on registration of marriage in Malaysia. It does not matter whether they are living in Malaysia or not, for many people now work, study and/or live in other countries.

EMPLOYMENT - Well, foreign spouses should not be treated as any other foreign/migrant worker. They should be allowed to work and earn income for their it through employment and/or through businesses. As such, their PR should maybe also be PR with the right to employment...for after all, most foreign spouses would likely be in low-income or middle income family, and their capacity to earn income must not be inhibited. It may be also reasonable for them to be obligated to pay taxes to Malaysia if they are earning income in Malaysia - which would accord them to contribute to EPF and also SOCSO (different from other migrant workers who now are not part of the EPF scheme, and is not part of SOCSO but a different scheme under the Workmen's Compensation Act.

Hopefully, the new Prime Minister and Pakatan Harapan government will do the needful, including immediately according PR status to spouses of Malaysians as soon as the marriage is registered in Malaysia. It is in line with the Malaysian culture - where marriage is also about a relationship with the family of one's spouse including a real responsibility of taking care of parents/dependants/children of the Malaysian spouse. It is also about generating more income for the family - a responsibility in this modern age is shared by both spouses. As mentioned, in the past marriage to 'foreigners' was a phenomena of the rich - but today a lot of poor and middle-income Malaysians also have 'foreign' spouses.


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