Don't discriminate against foreigners who marry Singaporeans for love

I found Mr Raymund Koh Joo Guan's letter very relevant ("Make it easier for foreign spouses to live in Singapore"; Nov 14).

My wife is from China. I admire her ability to overcome the difficulties mentioned by Mr Koh, and more.

During her first week in Singapore, my wife ventured into a supermarket on her own.

A well-dressed Singaporean woman asked if she was from Japan or South Korea.

When my wife replied that she was from China, the Singaporean woman, without saying another word, simply turned and walked away.

That was the first time my wife faced discrimination. She came home in tears.

During her earlier visits to Singapore, she felt harassed at Changi Airport.

Almost every time, she would be taken to a room for questioning.

But after waiting for at least an hour, she would be allowed to leave without the interview or any explanation.

When we applied for a long-term visit pass for her, as the spouse of a Singaporean, the form asked whether my wife or her family had paid me to marry her, and if the answer was "yes", the next question was "How much?". You can imagine the humiliation she felt.

She started to talk about returning home.

If I were to sell my business, we could live very comfortably in her home town, where she could continue to practise professionally and we would be treated with great respect.

I asked her to give my country time to sort out some of these issues. After all, we are still a young nation trying to find our place in the sun.

Perhaps one way to help foreign spouses in their genuine search for happiness in Singapore is for the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to interview both spouses.

Ideally, such interviews could be conducted unannounced in the applicants' home, to weed out scam marriages.

John Ho Hwa Hiong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Don't discriminate against foreigners who marry Singaporeans for love'. Print Edition | Subscribe