I was at the Immigration Department today, to renew my visa for long term stay. The last time I was there was a year ago, where I was granted a 1 Year Visa, a sticker in my bright red passport which says I am allowed to stay in Malaysia for a year without any penalty, and that I am not a tourist, but any form of employment is strictly prohibited.
Now, the Immigration Department is a very interesting place to be at. I could write a novel by just sitting down, observing everyone. Each has a story. It could be the spouses of Malaysians trying to beg for their PRs, or foreign workers/students trying to extent their stays, children of Malaysians born abroad, ‘pendatang haram’ finally caught and having to face the immigration issues, over stayers etc. And the drama sometimes can be quite surreal. I know because I was once in one of them.
It was 2006 December. I was on my extended visa, in which out of sheer stupidity and being a stubborn mule, I told the husband, never mind lah no need to renew it because that year we were in and out of Malaysia very often. So the last place we were at before that incident was Brisbane, and barely a month plus of touching down in Malaysia, we were supposed to leave for Christmas in Frankfurt. The husband kept reminding me to renew my visa, but I told him, never -mindlah, this is Malaysia, Malaysia boleh what…! Thinking that I could get away with not renewing my long term Malaysian Visa, which by then was 2 weeks overdue.
Then we were in KLIA. Checked in. Our luggages all set. The husband was all excited to see his family. In Wiesbaden his aunt was already waiting for our call in case we needed to be picked up. Luggages all on board Emirates. Then, I was stopped at the counter where they stamped my passport. ‘Puan…’ The man behind the counter grimly looked at me. ‘ Passport puan visa dia dah overdue. Puan dah melanggar undang-undang… overstaying ni !’
Damn. I overlooked one factor. People from my country are only allowed 30 days maximum in Malaysia. I have stayed about 40 days without renewing my visa.
We were in a fix. The husband tried to appeal saying that we really needed to board that flight and he tried to negotiate saying he really need to see his family and all, but the officer grimly said ‘You can go sir, but your wife has to stay and settle her immigration issues OR else, we get the airport police to put her in lokap tonight and send her to immigration tomorrow.’
The last thing I wanted to do is to have a record that I have been locked up in a Malaysian cell. Oh so tidak!!! I am adventurous yes, but NOT to THAT extend.
I thank God very much that moment for having such a patient and doting husband that he calmly requested for our luggages to be brought down from the planes, made arrangements for another Emirates flight the day after next so we can spend the next day sorting my Visa out. I felt guilty as hell. My stupidity and stubborn-ness caused him 2 days less of spending time with his family. And it showed on his face.
So the next day came and the first thing in the morning, we went to the Immigration. I had to beg for my case to be a genuine case of forgetfulness ( although I was more of being stubborn ) that I didn’t check my VISA. I had to be questioned ( interrogated ? ) and I literally had to plead with the officer to let me off because it was not my attention to over stay without permit.
He let me off with a stern warning and having to pay the minimum fine of Rm 100 as required by the law.
So Malaysia is not so boleh after all. ( in a good way too ! )
Anyway, we got back to the airport less than 48 hours later with a very repented me, having said sorry to the husband for a gazillion times and cursing myself for being a mule.
And everyday, at the Immigration Department, there are more of such stories, but some with more colours to it.
Today, the lady officer offered me a 5 year visa to stay in Malaysia. I was overjoyed !!! I love it here, seriously. I had some terrible first few months adjusting to the not so efficient side of things but looking past that and looking for it’s beauty and richness, I found heaps. But alas, it was not my rezeki. Her boss didn’t approve of it and he just approved for me to be here another year. So next year, on this date, I would have to appear at the Immigration Department again, with a muka kesian applying for yet another year to be on this Tanah Melayu.