Young and Stateless in Sabah

All his life, Wong Kueng Hui has dreamed of touring overseas with a hardcore punk band. But every morning, he wakes up to the same reality: he is stateless, and he may never be able to leave Malaysia.

Born and raised in Keningau, in the Malaysian state of Sabah, Wong has been forced to work exploitative jobs, like when he woke up every day before dawn for a year to work as a conductor on a three-hour bus route from Tenom to Keningau to Kota Kinabalu. He worked the route three times per day, and only got off work after washing the bus. Sometimes, he would work 20 hours in a day, and he only got two days off every month.

When he took the job, Wong was promised a monthly salary of RM 800 (US$195), but his employer, claiming he had deducted Wong’s meal allowance, only ended up paying him RM 500 (US$120)—less than half of Malaysia’s minimum wage.

Members only

Log in or

Join New Naratif as a member to continue reading

We are independent, ad-free and pro-democracy. Our operations are member-funded. Membership starts from just US$5/month! Alternatively, write to [email protected] to request a free sponsored membership. As a member, you are supporting fair payment of freelancers, and a movement for democracy and transnational community building in Southeast Asia.

Bookmark (0)
ClosePlease login

Related Articles