Penang exco asks Home Ministry to approve longer visas for foreign Catholic nuns volunteering in homes for elderly

State Exco Jagdeep Singh Deo speaks to reporters in George Town October 1, 2019. ― Pictureby Sayuti Zainudin
State Exco Jagdeep Singh Deo speaks to reporters in George Town October 1, 2019. ― Pictureby Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Oct 3 — Penang state exco Jagdeep Singh Deo called on the Home Ministry to consider approving longer term visas for foreign nuns who are here as volunteers in homes for the elderly.

The housing, local government and town and country planning committee chairman said four foreign nuns in two homes for the elderly in Penang and Kuala Lumpur have problems with their visas.

“The homes are facing complications in getting visas for these foreign volunteer nuns who are here to help,” he said at a press conference at the Little Sisters of The Poor, a home for the elderly, here.

He said the Immigration Department and Home Ministry are scheduled to visit the St Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly next week to look at ways to resolve the visa issue for the nuns.

“We hope that this can be resolved as the nuns are here as volunteers at the two homes in Penang and Kuala Lumpur and they are caring for aged local residents,” he said.

He added that the homes are charitable organisations and the nuns were not paid or given any form of remuneration.

Advisor to the two homes, Paul Arokiasamy, said the nuns were only given a 12-month visa and after that expired, they had to renew it on a monthly basis.

“We are asking that the government consider giving them a three-year visa at least,” he said.

He said volunteer nuns who come to help in the homes would often stay for long periods of time or until their visa expires.

He pointed out that applicants of the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme get five years plus five years visas but these nuns are only given short visas.

“The government is only considering longer visa periods for those who bring economic benefit but they must remember, these nuns are also here to help us, they are caring for the aged who are Malaysians,” he said.

He said the homes needed the nuns to run the homes properly.

The four nuns are from Sri Lanka, Singapore and South Korea.

Three of the nuns are volunteering at the St Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly in Kuala Lumpur and one at Little Sisters of the Poor in Penang.

Paul said they had to get foreign nuns as there were not many local Catholic nuns.

He said the nuns are not paid, do not get any perks, do not get holidays and only get time off once in a few years to go home.

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