Economic dependence and financial insecurity of non-citizen spouses in binational Malaysian marriages

By:

Bina Ramanand

Affiliations:

Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and KL (Family Frontiers)

Policy Code:

3e Economic Justice

Problem Statement:

The Long-Term Social Visit Pass (LTSVP) holds the statement: ‘any form of employment is strictly prohibited’. Non-citizen spouses are able to request prior approval from Immigration to work, but it is still highly restrictive—it is tied to the validity of the visa, to one state within the country, and non-citizen spouses are unable to acquire professional licenses. Regardless, employers remain reluctant to hire spouses upon seeing this prohibition notice. For those that succeed in getting employed, their employers are not mandated to contribute to EPF. They also have restricted access in opening an individual bank account.
These policies cause the non-citizen spouses to be economically dependent on their Malaysian spouse. Consequently, binational Malaysian homes are forced to rely upon one income, putting added pressure on the Malaysian spouse as the sole provider. This can cause an increased risk of domestic violence when non-citizen spouses are wholly dependent on the Malaysian spouse for their legal and economic status in the country.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Women in binational marriages should be allowed to work to allow self-fulfillment and allow financial security.

Proposal of Solution:

Allow non-citizen spouses of Malaysians equal rights to work and equal access to economic and social services to reduce financial burden and prevent the risks of non-autonomy of women.
1. Remove the statement of prohibition from employment on the visa and the requirement to obtain permission to work from the Department of Immigration.
i. Grant the right to work upon registration of marriage to prevent cyclical periods of unemployment instigated by visa-renewal requirements and waiting periods before eligible for an endorsement of employment.
2. Allow the opening of individual bank accounts for non-citizen spouses of Malaysians.
3. Extend protection of labour laws to non-citizen spouses including mandatory EPF, entitlement to the Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) and severance packages.

Translation

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