My name is Metha Sui. I’m twenty-five years old, my birthday is on September 7th. I used to live in a city called Hakha in the Chin Region of Myanmar. My husband is from the same village as me, even though we only got married in Malaysia. I have two daughters that were born here.
Everyone had to leave when the army came to our village. The soldiers took whatever they felt like: our chicken, our pigs, our food, our clothes—without so much as asking.
It wasn’t a straight-forward route to get to Malaysia. We made our journey by river on a sampan boat. Each boat had twenty people packed inside, we were stacked together like fish. We also traveled on a bus that drove all through the day and night. Sometimes we would walk by foot, sometimes go by van, sometimes in a car packed with ten people. We crossed the border from Myanmar to Thailand to make it to Malaysia. The entire journey cost 7,500,000 kyat (RM 4,000).
I arrived in Malaysia in 2006. For the first five months, I didn’t have a job. I started work at a restaurant in Klang when I was fifteen. It was hard work: I had to work for twelve hours a day, six days a week, with only Sunday off. That was my life for two years, before returning to Jalan Ipoh. I worked at another store, where I earned RM20 a day. All of this was before I was married. After I got married, I spent a year working before I had kids.
If you’re from Chin, it’s easier to pick up Malay. Our writing system is also similar to Chongkit. There is a similar voice between the languages. We didn’t learn from books, so the Malay used in offices and newspapers is still a bit difficult for us to understand.
My biggest fear is the police. I’ve had friends who were taken away by the police. My husband’s brother who works in Seremban was caught during an operation and thrown into jail. We had to pay RM1,000 for his bail.
A while ago, I was stopped by a policeman asking asking for my identity card (IC) from the UNHCR. I didn’t have an IC at that time (it took four years from when I registered to get one). So I had to give him all the money I had on me at the time, which was RM50.
The only form of identification my daughters have is a letter saying they are stateless. We aren’t recognized as citizens from Myanmar anymore. When my daughters are old enough, they will be able to get a red IC. Although it lets them work here, they won’t be treated the same as a Malaysian citizen.
When I’m not working or taking care of the children, I like to watch shows from Myanmar. I love to sew everything: from dresses to pants. I started sewing clothes for my first child, while was learning how to sew in Pudu for seven months. In the shop I worked at, I sewed women’s clothing and shirts.
I’d like to move to Australia if we can. If we can’t, we’ll stay in Malaysia.