OCTOBER 5 — Dear friends who have taken an interest in the case of the mysterious exit bans on my sister Cheng Chau Yang and her son in China, I would like to make a happy mid-autumn festival announcement! The duo have regained their freedom and have safely arrived Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours yesterday. The best mid-autumn gift ever!
On 28 July, 2017, with the help of Datuk Heng Seai Kie, Women’s Aid Organisation, Voice of the Children, Association of Women Lawyers, and our lawyer Goh Siu Lin, our family brought the plight of my sister and nephew to the Malaysian public.
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 two days after they were finally reunited.
Following the press conference, I wrote an open letter to Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, our Foreign Minister and Huang HuiKang, the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia.
What happened after that really reaffirms our faith in humanity. Anifah immediately responded to us and met us when he returned to Malaysia, and then assigned ambassador Ismail Salam to work with us — a civil servant who proved to be professional and caring.
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 judge, 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.
Anifah told us he would not and could not interfere with the Chinese sovereignty and legal system. However, on humanitarian grounds, he would help highlight our case to his Chinese counterpart, and let the Chinese government decide if they would take further actions in accordance to their laws.
The Chinese court later decided to take a closer look at our case, and upon reviewing 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.
This time, the court protected the safety of my sister and her son, and didn’t allow another abduction and physical violence to take place. The judge also told my sister that future visitations, like most divorce cases, can be adjusted depending on what’s happening in the child’s life — visitation can be done over school holidays etc, and through WeChat or video calls if necessary.
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 — visiting our soon-to-be-two-year-old nephew, catching up with friends and relatives, and will soon be visiting our 94-year old grandma back in our hometown.
Words can’t express our deepest gratitude to all the individuals and organisations that have helped us along the way. THANK YOU, to each and every one of you who have been supporting us, and especially to Anifah, Huang, ambassador Ismail and his team at Wisma Putra, Hew Tse Hou (our consulate general in Shanghai and his team), Heng and Sumitra Visvanathan and her team at WAO who have supported us unflaggingly for the past four years.
There are also other individuals who prefer not to be named.
In the present political climate, 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. They are efficient, communicative, and they could see the forest for the trees. I am glad to have leaders like them.
While we celebrate our little family reunion, our hearts go out to the many other parents we have come to know — mothers especially — who have been unfairly separated from their children. 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 Cheng is the elder sister of Cheng Chau Yang
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.