Penangite finds new home, but loses wife and kids to immigration crackdown

Fish Mart owner, Khor Kian Hown, 38, offered Looi Say Chye (right) a job at his minimarket in Farlim December 28, 2017. — Picture by KE OoiFish Mart owner, Khor Kian Hown, 38, offered Looi Say Chye (right) a job at his minimarket in Farlim December 28, 2017. — Picture by KE OoiKUALA LUMPUR, March 15 ― It was supposed to be a happy ending for Looi Say Chye and his family when they finally moved into a new home at the Rifle Range flats last Christmas after being evicted and forced to sleep on the cold concrete corridor floor.

But barely three months after, the Loois have been torn apart due to an immigration crackdown on illegal migrants.

Looi, 52, gave a tearful send-off yesterday at the Penang International Airport to his 43-year-old Indonesian wife Umyati and their children, a daughter aged nine and a son aged seven, Sin Chew Daily reported today.

According to the vernacular Chinese daily, Umyati and the children were last month nabbed by the Immigration Department after a tip-off that the trio did not have the necessary documents to stay in Malaysia.

Kebun Bunga assemblyman Cheah Kah Peng said Umyati has been living in Penang for 16 years. He was among those who reached out to help the family after their homeless situation was highlighted in the media last year.

Sin Chew reported the PKR state lawmaker saying he has been helping them to apply for identity cards, marriage registration and school enrollment.

But immigration officials swooped in and detained the Indonesian woman and the two children early last month.

Cheah said the trio's detention period would be shortened if they booked their own flight to Indonesia as the Immigration Department had said they would be sent there.

He said the Indonesian Consulate-General in Penang had helped the mother and two children apply for temporary papers to enter Indonesia, adding that his two aides will also accompany the trio to Umyati's hometown.

“Previously there were many people who sympathised with Looi Say Chye's family's plight, and donated money to them through my service centre. I will the money to Looi Say Chye after collecting it,” Cheah was quoted saying.

Looi said he will fly over to Indonesia in April or May to reunite with his family and will also consider moving there to be with them.

Looi and his family were evicted from their flat unit in a block in Rifle Range on Christmas day last year, and they spent the night in the corridor outside the flat unit on Christmas.

After their case was highlighted in the newspaper, the public and several political parties came forward to offer help to the Looi family.

A flat unit owner offered the family his vacant unit in another block in Rifle Range and the family moved into the unit on December 27, while a business owner had also last December offered Looi a job.