A Malaysian mother is appealing for help from the public, to fight a China court ban imposed on them in 2015 from leaving the country with her son.
Cheng Chau Yang, 42 and her eight-year-old son have felt “trapped” and unable to go home to Malaysia in the past four years. This looks likely to continue for them, as the ban could be extended for up to 10 years until the boy reaches 18.
Through a docu-drama uploaded yesterday (July 30) on YouTube by Cheng’s sister, Cheng narrated her ordeal, explaining that the ban was linked to her ex-husband’s visitation rights to the child.
Titled Mama on a Mission 《我妈妈有个使命》, the 15-minute video tells of her difficulties with the Chinese courts after her child was reportedly abducted twice by her ex-husband.
According to The Star, Cheng’s family held a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Friday (July 28) and alleged several kidnappings carried out by the boy’s estranged father.
The first was in September 2012, when Cheng’s Malaysia-born son, who was three at the time, was taken without notice by his father for a week.
He was only returned to his mother’s care after suffering a serious eczema flare-up triggered by a case of food poisoning.
Cheng, the manager of a Fortune 500 multinational firm in Shanghai, was away for a meeting in Singapore when the abduction took place.
Despite believing that her ex-husband would not attempt another kidnapping, she claimed the boy was taken again on July 30, 2013, and separated from her for 820 days.
Unable to reach her ex-husband or his family members, she lodged a police report on Aug 3, 2013. However, she was told by the Shanghainese police that it was not against the law in China for a father to hide a child from the mother.
She sought help from the Malaysian consulate in Shanghai, but it was unable to help her unless she had full custody of the child.
Filing for divorce in early 2014 in Shanghai’s Changning court, Cheng won custodial rights in December that year but was ignored by her ex, who continued hiding their child from her.
In October 2015, after searching for her son for more than two years unassisted by both the Malaysian and Chinese governments, Cheng finally found him in Changchun, some 2,000km north of Shanghai.
The boy was not even living with his father, who remained in Shanghai. He was said to be kept alone in a rented apartment under the care of his aunt.
“My son was living under a fake identity. He hated school. He couldn’t understand English anymore,” Cheng said in the video.
“His eczema had flared up ― broken skin all over his body, and dark patches on his forehead. He was weak from lack of exercise, and his self-esteem was rock bottom,” said Cheng’s sister Myra in a report by The Malay Mail.
But that was not the end of their nightmare.
Just three days after reuniting, Cheng was appalled to learn of the travel ban.
“We asked for relevant documents, but we were told it was not available. Until today, there is nothing black and white explaining the ban,” Cheng was quoted as saying in The Malay Mail.
In a court-supervised visit arranged by the Enforcement Court on Jan 15 last year, Cheng was promised the ban would be lifted after the visit. She was also asked to withdraw her appeal against the ban.
However, the visit took a bad turn and her son was almost abducted again, leaving him “traumatised”.
“My son was nearly snatched away once again outside the court after the visitation, my parents were beaten, and the court didn’t lift the ban. My son was totally frightened and devastated, wet the bed and had nightmares for a long time,” Cheng said in the same report.
“I send him to school and then pick him up after that. I dare not leave him alone on the streets and will always hold his hand, I can’t lose him again,” Cheng said in a phone interview with The Star.
Cheng’s plight was highlighted by Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie who wanted to bring the case to the attention of top leaders in China and Malaysia.
According to the video, Cheng has made countless appeals and written close to 350 letters but her efforts have so far been futile.
Her family has been campaigning and gathering signatures for a petition to lift the travel ban on the duo.