The silence that leads to outrage

2011 May 21

I have been witness to the inherent goodness and decency of humanity in my lifetime.  And yet I’m still in disbelief that so much malice and rudeness can coexist at the same time.

A Malaysian guy who allegedly works for an ex-immigration official, posed as a “visa agent” who was supposed to facilitate our family’s expat and dependent visas together with our nanny’s extension of length of stay. He ran off with our nanny’s passport instead.  He singled out her passport probably because it was a Filipino one, and he endorsed our family’s Dutch passports to the proper agencies because those were obviously Dutch.

On the one hand, I breathe a sigh of relief that my family’s passports are safe; on the other hand, our nanny is not just any dispensable house help one may replace at any employment agency at a moment’s notice, though that would have been the more convenient alternative.  Nanny is part of our family, her mother has been working for us for almost two decades and she has watched over my daughters every time we go and visit the Philippines.  And despite other more enticing job offers, they have always chosen to stay with us.  That kind of commitment and loyalty is hard to replace so I take this personally.

While I battle with the outrage on how this could have happened and while I wrestle with the conflict this has caused between me and my husband whom I blame in some ways for letting this happen – maybe unfairly perhaps, a thousand other questions run through my mind.

cc Image Courtesy AlexBobica ❘ Flickr

How is it possible for any human being to think it is okay to fool one into giving him money in exchange for a service that he was never intent on delivering in the first place? How does one look at another in the eye and act legitimately having already the full intent to screw?  What is it in a person’s background and upbringing that makes him turn out this way?

In the course of the investigations and as things slowly begin to unravel, the modus operandi becomes clear.  For every lost passport and for every day of overstaying as a consequence, the immigration office charges RM30 per day.  So for as long as the impostor agent continually promises to deliver the “approved” visa and passport and doesn’t show up, and for as long as there are gullible people who think this is okay and accept this as just part of the norm -– then business is good for those involved.

Except for the poor and distraught victims of this kind of scam, of course.

How do civil servants of government agencies arrive at the thought of organising themselves to exploit the very position they are supposed to carry out with honour and integrity? When did it become acceptable practice that anyone who works for the government is synonymous to be corrupt? And majority of the people take this resignedly with a shrug of their shoulders.

We accompanied our nanny to the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur to file the necessary papers to apply for a replacement passport.  A guy in his fifties mans the lost passport counter.  When my husband’s turn came, he was professional and pleasant while my husband was explaining the situation.  Then he asked, “Where’s your maid?”

Our nanny, who was standing from behind my husband all this time, stepped toward the counter.  And just like that, as if the clouds opened up and showered its ire on him, Mr. Philippine Embassy raised his voice and bellowed at her in Tagalog, condescendingly, like a dog, “Where’s the copy of your lost passport! You come here and step forward because this is your problem!”

Nanny cowered in fear.  Taken completely by surprise and not quite understanding what brought on the assault, Nanny lost her voice prompting the guy to shout again, “do you have a copy of your lost passport!”

I was watching the proceedings all this time and something exploded in me.  I moved towards the counter, stood next to Nanny, looked him in the eye and asked him point blank and as loudly as he did, “Excuse me! Why are you talking to her like that?!”

All eyes in the waiting room and those of his colleagues turned towards us.  Mr. Philippine Embassy looked at me as if someone doused his face with cold water.  He shifted his gaze down and started shuffling papers on the counter and replied, “That’s my natural, that’s my natural”… but in a much more subdued tone.  Nanny was addressed with much more respect after that.

How twisted is it that it always has to take outrage before those who are in the position of power and authority wake up to the indignities and injustices they are inflicting on the citizens they should be serving?

2 Responses leave one →
  1. May 24, 2011

    Hi Jeanelle,

    Thank you for your encouraging words. Kuala Lumpur is a great city and we’re not going to let this minor bump taint our future experiences. If anything, it has taught us to be wary of who to deal with. I enjoyed reading your blog, it reminds me of the first few years I moved to Holland. You certainly seem to be enjoying it. Have a fun trip to California!


  2. May 22, 2011

    I feel your frustration through your post.. I’m so sorry to hear about this act of deception brought on your family. Thank you for sharing your experiences through your blog so we can all be aware of the criminals out there…. Wishing you the best of luck in finding a fast solution.

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