Mum: I don’t know if I can see my boy again

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Mum: I don’t know if I can see my boy again
S’pore husband won’t renew China bride’s long-term visit pass, but said he’s reasonable
WHEN love sours, it can get downright ugly.
By Shree Ann Mathavan
01 August 2009

WHEN love sours, it can get downright ugly.

And when one spouse is a foreigner, it can get messy and complicated too.

Madam Tang Feng Jing, 30, a Chinese national, found this out when her Singaporean husband, 30, refused to renew her long-term visit pass to Singapore.

This left Madam Tang no choice but to return to China, leaving her 4-year-son behind with him.

She plans to file for divorce and fight for custody of her son and maintenance from her husband.

But lawyers here say it will be difficult for Madam Tang to do so.

Non-citizens are supposed to live in Singapore for ‘three continuous years’ before they can file for divorce here, say the lawyers. (See report on facing page.)

And, as a foreigner, she would not be entitled to legal aid.

This legal bind was the furthest thing on Madam Tang’s mind when she first met her future husband, a delivery man, through friends in Geylang in 2004.

Soon after their first meeting, she was deported to Liaoning, China, for working here illegally.

Thus began an improbable long-distance courtship via phone calls.

Madam Tang told The New Paper: ‘At first, I didn’t think we could be together because it was long-distance, but he really made the effort and was very sweet.’

The couple married in China in March 2005. Her husband would visit her there and Madam Tang gave birth to their son.

In December 2006, the family settled in Singapore when Madam Tang, now a housewife, was given a long-term visit pass after her husband wrote to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority.

Their picture of domestic bliss seemed complete.

Madam Tang moved into her in-laws’ four-room HDB flat in Yishun.

The couple registered for their own three-room HDB flat in Yishun last year. The $140,000 flat, which was applied for under the husband’s name, was to be ready in 2011.

But now, just four years into their marriage and before their matrimonial home is ready, the couple can barely stand speaking to each other.

Intimate pictures

The ugly turn began in April this year when Madam Tang accused her husband of having an affair.

She claimed to have found some intimate pictures of him and a Thai woman in his digital camera.

She told The New Paper that even before she discovered the photos that ‘he would disappear for a week every month’.

‘Other times, he would always be on the phone or SMSing,’ she added.

She claimed that when she confronted her husband, he admitted to the affair.

But her husband, who declined to be named, denied this.

He told The New Paper yesterday that the photographs were only of a friend and that his wife was making false accusations.

As their relationship soured, he refused to renew his wife’s long-term visit pass, which expired on 21 Jul.

He had previously applied for Madam Tang to be a permanent resident twice, in 2007 and 2008, but was turned down both times.

He explained his decision not to renew his wife’s pass: ‘I thought we needed to have a cooling-off period, so I bought her a plane ticket back home while we thought things out.’

Madam Tang was furious when she found out and refused to go home.

She told The New Paper: ‘I wanted to try all ways and means to stay on and be with my son.

‘He didn’t care about me or that his son would not have a mother by sending me back.’

Things came to a head after the couple made police reports against each other on 16 Jul at the Yishun South neighbourhood police post.

Her husband claimed she had stolen his digital camera while Madam Tang accused her husband of confiscating her passport.

Following the police reports, Madam Tang claimed, her husband kicked her out.

He disputed this, saying: ‘I have never chased her out. It was her own choice to leave the flat, saying she wanted to find out about her rights.’

Homeless

During the two weeks that she was homeless, Madam Tang stayed with friends for one week and slept at void decks in Yishun.

During the day, she would spend some time with her son, who’s a Singaporean citizen, after picking him up from her in-laws’ flat.

Her husband said: ‘I have never stopped her from taking our son out because it is her child too. I don’t think I was unreasonable.’

Madam Tang twice managed to obtain a week-long visitor’s pass, which was due to expire today.

Yesterday, she flew home with a new plane ticket bought with money sent from her family in China.

Speaking to The New Paper while spending her last day in Singapore with her child, she said she had run out of options.

She had tried talking to various lawyers who told her she could not remain here once her visitor’s pass ran out.

‘It seems like there is no hope for me here. I have no job, no status. I’m not a PR. I want to be with my son, but at the same time, I can’t stay here,’ she said.

She added tearfully: ‘I don’t know when and if I can see my son again.

‘I’m just worried my son will be sad and cry without his mum. I’m heartbroken to leave him here.’

On his part, her husband said he would ‘wait and see’ what his estranged wife does.

He said: ‘It depends on what she wants. I’m willing to give her time to decide.’

He said he was always generous to her during their relationship.

He claimed to have given her $24,000 to build a house for her family in China and $1,000 to remit to her father earlier this year.

The New Paper was unable to verify his claims as Madam Tang could not be contacted yesterday.

But despite the emotional turmoil, he said: ‘I have no regrets, at least I have my son whom I love.’

If Madam Tang does file for divorce, he said: ‘I will fight for custody.’

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