WITH reference to news reports on Malaysian transsexual Fatine‘s potential deportation from the United Kingdom, we wish to register our grave concerns at statements by Immigration Department director-general Abdul Rahman Othman and at how the story was reported.
We question why Abdul Rahman singled out Ms Fatine as having “brought great shame upon us”, allegedly for immigration offences, when just over a year ago the Malaysian government took a far more lenient approach to Malaysian overstayers in the UK. We recall that the then-Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar indicated that in addition to cooperating with the British government’s voluntary repatriation scheme, the Malaysian government would not impose further penalties on returnees.
We note that Ms Fatine has done her best to comply with British law. That she was singled out as an alleged “shame” amongst the approximately 20,000 Malaysian overstayers in the UK suggests that the threat of severe penalties is based on the fact that she is a transsexual person. We caution that such threats constitute a violation of her rights to non-discrimination and to security of person.
What is truly shameful about Ms Fatine’s situation is what it reveals about our prejudices. Discrimination against transsexuals in this country runs the gamut from violence to official restriction toward changing their gender identity or photos in their documents. This discrimination is further perpetrated by how they are portrayed in the media.
It’s “she”, not “he”
We are deeply disappointed that some press and the authorities refer to Ms Fatine as a “he”. Ms Fatine clearly identifies as a woman. Whether she is pre-op or post-op is entirely irrelevant to her gender identity. It is disrespectful and hurtful to refer to her by anything other than her chosen gender.
Ms Fatine has a right to be treated with dignity and to equal protection under the law. Unfortunately, these rights are rarely respected by the Malaysian authorities and by society at large in their treatment of transsexual persons.
We remind the authorities that Article 8(2) of the federal constitution prohibits discrimination based on gender. In addition, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which Malaysia ratified in 1995, obliges the government to refrain from engaging in any act or practice of discrimination against women.
The Malaysian government has a responsibility to ensure that all public authorities and institutions act in conformity with this obligation, including the Immigration Department.
We strongly urge the government and public institutions to lead the way in changing societal attitudes, laws and public policy by honouring their human rights obligations.
All Women’s Action Society
Women’s Aid Organisation
4 Dec 2009
And another thing that was insulting, reporting that she is “married”. She’s married, no need for inverted commas, full stop.
Yes, Malaysian Immigration Department is so wrong for not helping Fatine as a Malaysian citizen. [Abdul Rahman’s] prejudice towards the LGBT community is so transparent. He puts his own belief and judgement first before his duty as “servant of the people” and not the other way around. […]
I was appalled by Abdul Rahman’s lack of maturity in dealing with tge larger issue and to single out Fatine just because she’s a transsexual is completely wrong. Who are you to judge? Allah? God Almighty? Just because you have a position within a government doesn’t mean that Fatine is less human than you and your family. Abdul Rahman seems to take a religious point of view rather than understanding the root of the problem.
Fatine should stay in the UK and fight for her rights. [Many Malaysians] are hypocrites and love to apply their rules and regulations when things are convenient for them. I’ll bet that whenever inconvenienced then [they would say] the law doesn’t apply to them. As a Malay myself I can honestly understand the rejection that Fatine has gone through.
There is a Malay saying: “Sudah jatuh ditimpa tangga.” I’m absolutely sure that it is not Fatine’s intention to shame the Malaysian government. It is in fact the Malaysian government itself that has brought shame upon itself by hiring [someone] like Abdul Rahman to run the Immigration Department. You see what happens when you hire someone like Abdul Rahman who was completely and utterly clueless on addressing human rights issues in the international arena. […]