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Ties That Bind

Category: , Posted:30 Apr 2011 | 06:00 am

For some men the vision of the perfect partner is an orphaned Victoria's Secret model who can magically converse like Oprah Winfrey.
Though reality bites hard and in most instances such men end up with someone who looks like Oprah Winfrey but has the mind of a beauty queen (pardon the stereotyping – if this has offended you, please discontinue reading immediately).
Veering back to our topic of real estate, a key development in Indonesia caught my eye just the other day. Certainly of late the news in Cambodia about horny old geezers marrying teenage girls just so they could buy property and conduct business has created a quite a buzz.
Indonesia's model, which up-dates the country's 1992 immigration law, appears to be both well thought out and considers a number of important concerns for mixed-nationality marriages.
Under the new rules foreigners who are married to Indonesians are allowed permanent stay visas after two years. Once that status has been attained there is no need to renew the visa annually; just simply report every five years with no additional costs.
A key bonus is the connection between immigration and labor, which allows the foreign spouse to legally work in the country. This is a key point aimed at ensuring the economic sustainability of both the couple and any children.
Long-term thinking is also featured whereby if a couple divorces after 10 years, then the foreign partner is allowed to retain a visa in order to be close to any children from the marriage.
Children born into the family who hold overseas passports are also accorded residency rights.
Foreign investors have been included in the new law, under which those who stay three consecutive years can apply for long-stay visas. Under the old regulations the period was five years.
What makes the Indonesian initiative newsworthy is both the liberalization of its overseas investment sector and also a humane face to the often contentious issue of mixed marriages.
Certainly Thailand, which has one of the largest contingents of these unions in Southeast Asia, continues to remain in a position of "seat warming".
Despite overtones by the present government about an open-door policy, there has been little improvement over the past few years.
For Phuket, where the property market could use an injection of initiatives to restart the economic engine, there remains little to write home about.
While elections are being touted as the winds of change, the silent majority looks to be the wild card in the process. Unfortunately, the issue of immigration reforms appears to have been lost at the bottom of the "all-too-hard" basket.
Without either a strong ally in government or substantial advocacy or lobby group to steer the mandate, for now it's a slippery slope of same-sameness.
National sovereignty remains a touchy-feely issue here, and there is only one thing for certain; For now, despite media attention, the status quo approach looks to be the path of least resistance.

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