Malaysian Embassy Asks Foreign Ministry to Address Expat Registration


Diplomatic note

Alternative Turkmenistan News (ATN) continues to monitor the situation around evictions of foreign nationals from their rented apartments, which are illegal according to Ashgabat lawyers.

As ATN reported earlier, in February, the authorities initiated raids in an effort to identify and evict people living in rental housing. The raids affected thousands of Turkmen, who came to the capital to work, and hundreds of foreign diplomats and employees of major foreign companies.

The police together with the local government and immigration service officials would come to non-resident tenants and order them to vacate the premises. In some cases, they gave the people just a few hours to collect their belongings. Immigration officials demanded that the foreigners show their tenancy agreements, even though the city administration was no longer registering such documents, after president Berdimuhamedov spoke on the matter on February 5.

According to the incoming reports, the immigration service has carried on with the raids. The fact is supported by the note submitted by the Malaysian Embassy in Turkmenistan to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ATN obtained its copy. The note contains the same question, and a request to assist the Malaysians with registration at the State Immigration Service of Turkmenistan. ATN is publishing the full text of the note:

«The Embassy of Malaysia in Turkmenistan presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan and has the honor to refer to the meeting between H.E. Ambassador Norman Muhamad and the head of the Asia Pacific Division on 23 March 2016. Following the discussions during the meeting, the Embassy would like to forward herewith the copy of letters from Malaysian companies forwarding the list of Malaysians affected by the difficulty concerning the registration of Malaysian citizens at their rented apartment in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. 

The Embassy has further the honor to request the Ministry’s kind understanding to assist the Malaysians in registering at the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan, as these Malaysians’ stay in Turkmenistan are very critical to the operation of Malaysian companies in Turkmenistan. 

The Embassy of Malaysia in Turkmenistan avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan the assurances of its highest consideration.»

According to an ATN source in the Turkmen MFA, the ministry «is well aware of the absurdity [of the situation]», but is unable to do anything, as it «has no leverage over the immigration service.»

«Foreigners became hostages to the existing legal vacuum and the incompetent management of the Turkmen immigration service, in particular, its chief Meylis Nobatov,» he said.

The source noted that Malaysian diplomats had also met with the immigration officials, and handed over the lists of their countrymen affected by the forced eviction.

«They asked to give the citizens of Malaysia more time, and not to penalize them for failing to meet the registration rules, which simply cannot be met through no fault of these people,» the source added.

In a private conversation with ATN, one of the expats, who has recently returned to his homeland from Turkmenistan, said that off the record the immigration officials had openly told them: live in your camps, or in hotels.

«Meanwhile, during official meetings they smile at us and assure that the assistance will be provided. They take no action, however. Quite the opposite, they are putting more pressure on the foreigners,» he said.

According to the expat, executives, who come to Turkmenistan with their families for a long period, prefer to make a home here, so they rent high-end apartments.

«This is how they do it everywhere, and it’s normal. After all, it is the government that has invited us to the country to develop their oil and gas fields, so they should provide all conditions required for normal work,» he said.

According to ATN estimate, there are about 350 Malaysian citizens currently working in Turkmenistan. Most of them work for Petronas Carigali.