Hundreds of (Former) Malaysian citizens are trapped in Britain (UK). They cannot go back to their home county, Malaysia as they are being rendered stateless. Though they have been living in the UK for more than a decade, the Home Office refuses to grant them immigration status.
According to media reports, they have become stateless after having renounced their citizenships. They were led to believe an obscure British travel document would make them UK citizens.
Being stateless in Uk, they are left unable to work or lead a normal life, driving some into exploitation as a means of survival, and hundreds still remain in limbo.
The British news portal, The Independence seems to have interviewed three stateless former Malaysian citizens who are stuck in the UK, can neither work or live there nor can they return back to their country of origin. The three Malaysians are Adam, 37, Yan Kit, 42 and Liew The, 38 years old.
According to Adam* who has been living without status in Britain for six years, the UK government tried to deport him to Malaysia in 2011, but he was not granted entry to Malaysia as soon as he arrived at KL airport.
The Malaysian authorities blocked him from coming into the country and sent him back to the UK, because he was stateless – he had renounced his citizenship in 2005 – a decision he says he took on the advice of both his solicitors and the Malaysian High Commission, and now regretted, he told the media.
“I was shocked and confused as they just said they going to deport me when I went to the Home Office for normal reporting schedule.
“They transferred me from the police station to several detention centres within a week before two long journey flights to Malaysia and back without rest, where three escorts were flying with me.
“I felt like I was being treated like a very bad criminal or maybe not even a human. I was so exhausted after the week of this unforgettably tragic journey,” Adam said.
Adam, who did not mention his full name, is one of the hundreds of former Malaysian citizens who were rendered stateless more than a decade ago when they were led to believe a BOC passport – a relic from the UK’s colonial past – would make them UK citizens, according to the Independent.
To survive there, Adam has been doing poorly paid, cash-in-hand informal delivery work and is relying on friends to house him.
“It’s sad and tiring. You have to work informally and you have to survive by yourself, and when the Home Office asks you have to say you aren’t working. How do they expect us to survive?”
“I want to go back to Malaysia but I can’t. I’m stuck, I can’t go anywhere. I’m just waiting here, wasting my life away,” Adam says on his plight.
Yan Kit is also another former Malaysian citizen who arrived in the UK in 2001 to study mechanical engineering but instead, he was advised that he could obtain British nationality if he renounced his Malaysian citizenship.
He says he wishes to go back to Malaysia, where his wife lives, but the Malaysian authorities have told him directly that there is no route for him to be granted residency.
The 42-year-old, who lives with his uncle as he is unable to find a landlord who will rent to him without UK status, was arrested in 2015 by immigration officers during a raid on the garage where he was working.
“They tried to contact the Malaysian government to deport me, but they said they couldn’t deport me because I wasn’t a Malaysian citizen anymore. So, in the end, the Home Office let me out again. They did nothing to help me resolve the situation,” he says.
“I haven’t been able to work since then. Now I just sit at home. The worst thing is every month I have to go and report with the UK border agency, but it means nothing. They just write another date on the letter and let you go. If I ask questions, they can’t tell me what’s happening. They just give me the date for my next report time.”
Kit says that while he is able to visit his wife in Malaysia on visit visas, these only last up to one month, and the travel is expensive. He adds: “If I could get back my Malaysian citizenship, I would go back.”
Liew Teh, another person affected by the issue, says he was shocked when, in 2009, he was told by a job agency that he could not be employed anywhere due to his immigration status.
Lawyers said the former Malaysian citizens had been languishing in Britain at the mercy of the hostile environment in what has been branded a “Windrush-style” scandal after being stateless for more than 10 years.