Finally after some days following the explosive news of what is termed as modern-day slavery, we get to know the name of the Malaysian woman who is allegedly enslaved for 30 years in London along with two others. The woman, Siti Aishah Wahab is said to have gone to study in the UK after obtaining a scholarship and has never returned home since 1968.
There have been, in fact , thousands of bright Malaysian students who have gone to study overseas on scholarship or otherwise and many, upon completion of their courses, have come back to serve the country.
I should know because I am one of them. Despite being eligible for a PR, I chose to return home. Many have returned home though some, usually the non-Bumi, would stay back but they continue to work in their adopted countries and contribute to the local society. In short, they lead a reasonably normal life.
Some of my friends who refuse to come home, if not married to a local spouse, are those who tend to have “excessive emotional baggage” at home in Malaysia. Two Malay men and a woman I knew in London were gay and a lesbian. They preferred the city to anywhere else and be free to practise their way of life uninhibited.
The story of Aishah is not that of a “normal student”. She appeared to be steely in her resolve and strong in her ideology and thus leaving everything including her family to be with people who “agree” with her. Hers is more ideological and perhaps not so common among our students studying overseas now because the world during Aishah’s youth was certainly different from the world now. I would say she is the rare one especially looking at her family background and early schooling days.
This is not to suggest that our government or individual families for that matter should stop sending our children to study in such countries because the benefits of education there far outweigh these personal issues.
Perhaps the 69 year-old Siti Aishah and the other 57 year- old Irish woman were not slaves after all but just ageing and tired women who finally realised that old age is not an easy phase of life in London and that they need to be cared for in their twilight years; especially when Aishah was reported to have suffered a stroke before the so-called “rescue” last October.
The 1997 ITV footage of Aishah and Josephine, the Irish woman, clearly showed that they were free women arriving in a taxi with the man who was supposed to have enslaved them, to attend a court hearing on the suspicious death of one of their female comrades.
There is yet another ITV videotape showing them sparring with intrusive reporters who came to their house to find out more about the traumatic death of the above female who was also living in the “collective” with them 16 years ago. They certainly did not look or sound enslaved.
There is more to this whole drama than meets the eye . And for all intents and purposes, Siti Aishah, the promising Malaysian student who “disappeared” in London for three decades is finally coming in from the cold.