Allow Visas For Foreign Nuns To Care For The Aged Home Ministry Told




The management of the Penang-based Little Sisters of the Poor home for senior citizens has appealed to the Home Ministry to speed up their visa applications for foreign nuns
Sister in-charge Margaret Anne lamented that without the foreign nuns, who gave good care for the aged, the Home is in dire need of help
"We are lacking hands daily. We really need the help and dedication of our foreign Sisters, who do this work voluntarily without pay," she said in a press conference at the Home in Lorong Batu Lanchang
When asked why the Home did not rely on local nuns, Sister Margaret replied "It's a calling from God. There is no pay, no leave, which worker will join?"
"That's why I said this job is a calling from God. It's a 24-hour duty," Margaret added
Accompanying the Sisters at the event were Penang executive councillor Jagdeep Singh Deo, the Home's honorary adviser Paul Ariokiasamy and Air Itam assemblyperson Joseph Ng
Paul said the home's greatest challenge was in obtaining the Immigration Department's approval for the nuns
Out of desperation, Paul said he had penned a letter detailing the Home's situation last Friday
"We were asked to register under ESD, which is expatriate services under Immigration Malaysia
"Our attempts to obtain long term visas under the religious category have been declined many times, many reasons being cited, one of which is the immigration policy that allows only one foreign person per religious house," he added
Paul said the ESD is only a 12-month visa approval
"When we receive a foreign nun as a caregiver or a volunteer, we ought to keep them for at least three to five years
"Yearly approval is both costly and time-consuming
"Our attempts to obtain long-term visa approval has been a herculean task," he said
The Home has written to Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and deputy minister of Women, Family and Community Development Hannah Yeoh to help resolve their problem
According to Jagdeep, both leaders are working on the issue
"To her credit, the DPM has written to the Home Ministry asking them to resolve the matter," he said
"We urge the Home Ministry to finalise their policies as soon as possible as this is holding back the Sisters, whose help is paramount in running the home," Jagdeep said
Currently, two nuns from Sri Lanka, one from Singapore and another from South Korea are affected by the visa problem
The Home is registered with the Welfare Department, which is under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development
"We have written numerous letters to both the former and current Immigration Director-General, the Home Minister, and the Home Ministry Secretary-General highlighting our plight," Paul lamented
Since 2016, the Home has been obtaining visas for the nuns in the expatriates' category
"This comes as a great challenge as we cannot conform to the salary category and other requirements that a professional expatriate must adhere to," said Paul
The home for the elderly is operated by the nuns of the Little Sisters of the Poor. The headquarters of the congregation is in France.

The nuns operate homes in 35 countries, including Malaysia since the 1960s. In Malaysia, there are two homes with a total of 135 elderly residents, of which 65 are in Penang. - Mkini

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