A New Zealand Fijian family fear that their cancer-stricken
mother will be deported to Fiji and die a heartbreaking and
lonely death - the same fate that befell Fijian Sanil Kumar
Ashia Begam, 59, a Fijian living in Auckland with stage four
metastatic breast cancer, is pleading to the Government to
grant her residency. Her visitor's visa expires next month.
Her two children and their children are New Zealand citizens
or residents, and her husband is in New Zealand on a work
visa. The family says she has no one to take care of her in
Fiji, and they can't leave New Zealand because of work and
Her case follows the death of Sanil Kumar, who died this week
after returning to Fiji. He had wanted to stay in New Zealand
for a kidney transplant.
Associate Immigration Minister Nikki Kaye stood by her
decision not to intervene in Mr Kumar's case, adding that not
all the case's information was made public.
But the Fiji Indian Association called the it "heartless".
Mrs Begam's daughter, Fozia Ali, said the family was "very
scared and disturbed by Sanil Kumar's case, as we don't want
her to go through the same ordeal".
"We know the end will come soon. She's in a lot of pain. Her
bones are very soft, and she has very limited mobility.
"She has nothing at all in Fiji. No one to go to."
In a letter to Prime Minister John Key, Ms Ali wrote: "We are
a close-knit family, but I can't accompany my mum to Fiji as
I have four children aged 9, 7, 5 and 3, and my brother
Shakeel has two kids, aged 4 and 2.
"Sending her to Fiji would mean dying alone and away from
family without peace, love and family support ... leaving her
to die without her kids, husband and grand kids. This issue
leaves me heart broken."
Mrs Begam has been in New Zealand for six years and was
diagnosed with cancer in 2011. She has twice been declined
residency, and in February this year was denied a work visa
because she did not meet health standards.
In declining the work visa, Immigration NZ said: "There is a
strong case that the client can receive all the relevant care
that she needs in Fiji and at a lower cost to the client and
The Auckland DHB had been treating Mrs Begam, but it had
stopped treatment when her work visa was declined.
DHB director of the cancer and blood directorate, Richard
Sullivan, said he sympathised with her situation.
"But Auckland DHB does not have discretion to treat people
who are ineligible for free public healthcare."
The family says they are paying off a debt to the DHB of
about $16,000 -- but the DHB was unable to confirm this.
The Prime Minister's office has referred the matter to Ms
Kaye, who expected to make a decision within a week.
Ms Kaye did not want to comment on the case, but said that
one factor she considers is the effect on New Zealanders'
access to health services.
"In terms of my decisions ... some of them involve
consideration of a range of factors including access to
treatment for New Zealanders.
"Some of those decisions include enabling people with
significant illnesses to remain in New Zealand."
- By Derek Cheng of APNZ