Malaysian Aid Worker Ordered Out of  Aceh For Visa Violation

Banda Aceh, TAG. Immigration officials in Aceh have said that a Malaysian national working for relief services has been given three days to leave Indonesia for abusing her tourist visa.

Banda Aceh Immigration Office chief Agus Widjaja said on Friday that the decision to deport 37-year-old Hanizam Abdul Ghani had been made after his office questioned the woman for five hours on Thursday. 

“We suspected that this foreigner was working in Aceh without proper immigration documentation, so we investigated this person,” Agus said on Friday. 

“It was revealed in our investigations that she had already secured permits to work here from the Manpower Ministry, the State Secretary and the Ministry of Social Affairs. However, she had failed to secure permission to work here from us — immigration services.” 

The deportation highlights the difficulties foreign aid workers face in obtaining proper documentation to work in Aceh, which is still recovering from the devastation of the 2004 tsunami.
On Wednesday, four relief groups were ordered to cease operations in Aceh Jaya district after being accused of trying to convert Muslim residents. 

Agus said that in Hanizam’s case, she had violated existing immigration regulations because she was on a tourist visa, but was working for an Australian-based non-governmental organization in Banda Aceh identified as ActionAid Australia. 

“She misused her tourist visa, and so we have decided to send her home. She is to go back home and get her permit. Once she gets the proper documentation to work in Indonesia, she is welcome to come back [to Aceh] for work purposes. But now she must go home,” Agus said. 

“She has, however, not been blacklisted by us.” 

According to a reliable source who spoke on condition of anonymity, Hanizam has held the position of AAA project director who supervises over the Aceh Economic Development Financing Facility. 

The AEDFF project is a post-tsunami reconstruction program that falls under the jurisdiction of Banda Aceh Development Planning Board (Bappeda). 

When asked to comment, AAA communications and media officer Adi Warsidi declined to speak on the matter.

Aceh Bappeda chief Iskandar confirmed that his office had not heard anything about Hanizam’s deportation. “However if this is true, she will have to follow the rules in order to work in Indonesia,” Iskandar said. 

“Not just Hanizam … but all foreigners working in Aceh need to live in accordance to the rules of working in Indonesia — which is to hold a limited-residency permit,” he added. 

According to Iskandar, AAA is helping to develop cocoa plantations in the Pidie, North Aceh and East Aceh districts through grants worth approximately Rp 63 billion ($7.4 million).
Malaysian Aid Worker Ordered Out of  Aceh For Visa Violation Malaysian Aid Worker Ordered Out of  Aceh For Visa Violation Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on May 14, 2011 Rating: 5

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