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China travel ban lifted, woman and son return to Malaysia

 | October 5, 2017

Malaysian woman and 8-year-old son return home after efforts by government to help her get a travel ban obtained by her Chinese husband removed.

Cheng-Chau-Yang-1

PETALING JAYA: The saga of a Malaysian mother and her son being unable to leave China has finally come to an end.

In a letter to FMT, Myra Cheng said that her sister Cheng Chau Yang and her eight-year-old nephew flew home to Malaysia early yesterday morning.

Calling it the best mid-autumn gift ever, Myra, who is Chau Yang’s eldest sister, especially thanked Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and others who had helped her in her efforts since July this year.

“Thank you, to each and every one of you who have supported us unflaggingly for the past four years,” she said, naming Anifah, China ambassador to Malaysia Huang Hui Kang, Malaysian ambassador to China Ismail Salam, Malaysia’s consulate general in Shanghai Hew Tse Hou, MCA Wanita chief Heng Seai Kie, Womens Aid Organisation’s Sumitra Visvanathan, and the people who worked for the abovementioned.

“What happened after my communication with the minister and the Chinese ambassador really reaffirms our faith in humanity.”

Chau Yang and her son’s troubles were brought to public attention in late July when news reports highlighted how Myra had roped in Heng, WAO and two other NGOs to help get her sister and nephew out of China.

“At that point, it had been a four-year struggle in China for the family – first over a custodial right that was not enforceable, and then over the mysterious and absurd exit bans that were imposed on the mother and child just two days after they were finally reunited.”

According to Myra, Chau Yang, who had been based in Shanghai, had been granted sole custody of the boy in December 2014. She had filed for divorce in February the same year.

“However, Chau Yang had been prohibited from leaving China since October 2015 after her ex-husband, a Chinese national, sought a court order for a travel ban.

“The ban stated that the restriction is renewable every three months until the son reaches the age of 18,” Myra said.

‘Help from all quarters’

Myra shared about the great human spirit which came to the fore after her story went out, with people, aside from the government officials, stepping forward to help her family.

“Phone calls, enquiries, and offers for help poured in from all quarters – our friends, media people, NGOs, long lost friends and their friends and their friends’ friends, human rights activists, retired judges, civil servants, business people, politicians, lawyers – people offering help and advice in whatever ways they could.

“Many of them also reached out to people they know in China,” she said, adding that thanks to Anifah’s efforts, the Chinese government decided if they could take further action in accordance with their laws.

“As a result, the Chinese court later reviewed the evidence again in accordance to Chinese laws, deemed my sister’s guarantee to fulfil her legal obligation sufficient, and subsequently lifted the bans after a second court-supervised visitation.”

She added that the court had also ensured that her sister and nephew were given the necessary protection to prevent her husband from abducting the boy.

“And so, our four-year ordeal has come to an end in two months.

“And my sister and nephew are now catching up with things they have missed out in the past four years, catching up with friends and relatives, and will soon be visiting our 94-year old grandma back in our hometown.”

Not fair to stereotype

Myra also spoke of how she realised now how wrong she was in her perception of politicians.

“In the present political climate in the country, it is easy to use a broad brush and dismiss the entire party or a category of individuals, politicians especially.

“I have done that in the past. However, my personal experience in the past two months tells me that such stereotyping may not be fair.

“In Anifah and in another politician, I have seen responsive, caring and down-to-earth leaders who just wanted to help but asked for nothing in return,” she said., adding that they were efficient, communicative, and “could see the forest for the trees”.

She called for authorities anywhere to help mothers who have been unfairly separated from the children to step up and help these women be reunited with their loved ones.

“They have abided by the law too, but they receive little protection; and they have not been as lucky as we are. We hope their own reunions may not be too far away,” Myra said.


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