GEORGE TOWN: A heavily pregnant Indonesian woman married to a local who was given a hard time by immigration authorities last week when she sought an extension of her visitor’s pass to deliver her baby in Penang was nearly deported on Monday, her husband revealed.
Albert, 23, said his wife Mery, 20, had defied doctor’s orders not to go on long-distance trips or fly, by returning to her hometown of Medan on Sunday so she could return to Malaysia with a renewed pass.
But as soon as the couple landed in Penang on Monday, immigration authorities told her she could not enter as she was more than six months pregnant.
Albert said he and Mery were shocked as they had acted on advice from Penang immigration officials to leave the country and re-enter to get a fresh visitor’s pass.
He was also told that Mery, who is eight months pregnant, could not enter Malaysia as she previously bore a work permit and could only return after six months.
He questioned the six-month cooling-off period, saying it was strange as Mery had gone back and forth from Medan to Penang before this without any trouble.
He also expressed frustration at having to lie to the airlines by telling them Mery was only 28 weeks pregnant instead of nearly 32.
He said he had turned to Seberang Perai municipal councillor K Jason Raj for help. The councillor had pleaded with the senior immigration officer to allow Mery to stay on compassionate grounds, but to no avail.
After two hours and repeated phone calls by Raj to the immigration authorities in both Penang and Putrajaya, Mery was given a one-month visitor’s pass.
Albert said the pass was a big although temporary relief. Given that it expires on Nov 22, a week before Mery’s due date of Nov 29, he now faces yet another hurdle in seeing his first baby safely delivered.
“Despite us showing letters from a government hospital on her pregnancy and the Malaysian marriage registration certificate, the officer said it was ‘not their problem’,” he said.
“They also asked me why I did not go to the Thai border to do a quick visa run. I said my wife and I are not familiar with Thailand and were better off in Medan on a 50-minute flight. It was a gamble I had to take.”
Albert told FMT he did not know what to do next as his attempt to get a spousal visa at RM1,500 a year was also denied.
Last Friday, FMT reported that a senior immigration officer at the Penang immigration department had been rude to the couple and Raj, telling Mery to take a ship back home.
The officer also accused Raj of abusing his power by intervening on the couple’s behalf. Raj subsequently lodged a police report, with sources telling FMT that the officer lodged a counter report as well.
Neither immigration director-general Mustafar Ali nor Penang immigration director Meor Hezbullah Meor Abd Malik have responded to FMT’s request for comment.