Cosmetics entrepreneur Nur Sajat, who has been on the run from the Malaysian government, has been granted political asylum in Australia
The 36-year-old took to her Instagram Live on Monday, 18 October, to share that she is now living in Sydney, Australia and that she was never coming back to Malaysia, reported Malay Mail.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson confirmed that her application for asylum has been accepted, saying, "she is now safe", according to a report in South China Morning Post (SCMP).
Prior to this, Sajat was arrested in Thailand on 8 September following a tip-off by Malaysian authorities, who have been hunting her for failing to show up for a court proceeding in February this year.
Sajat was charged on 6 January under Section 10(a) of the Syariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Selangor) 1995 as her act of cross-dressing is said to have brought contempt to Islam.
When she failed to show up during the mention of the case on 23 February, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) mobilised about 122 personnel to find and arrest Sajat, reported Malay Mail.
Sajat has been under intense scrutiny by both local authorities and netizens as early as 2016 after she publicly announced that she identifies as a woman. She has been on the receiving end of cyberbullying and death threats. Her plight as a transperson has often been reported by international media.
According to Sajat, the reason she chose Australia to seek asylum from Malaysia is because the country accepts "Sajat and Sajat is free"
"What else do we want? We want freedom. So, human rights here, it is very important. They (Australia) really prioritise human rights. I don't want anything, I just want human rights," she said.
Sajat added that she is "now happy and free".
"Now that I'm free, I can carry on with my life. Money can be earned but happiness can't be bought. For me, I'm happy being in a country that accepts (me for) who I am, and that's what I really want," she said, adding that she wasn't happy in Malaysia and chose to leave because she still has respect.
"I just want to find freedom, that's all," Sajat was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini.
The 36-year-old shared that she plans to restart her business in Australia, after having liquidated all her business interests in Malaysia
According to SCMP, Sajat said that she has sold all her businesses in Malaysia and "could not wait" to start afresh in her new country after she has completed her quarantine period.
"We have been quiet all this while because we plan to open a new shop in a new location and Alhamdulillah [thank God], we've got a lot of support. I am very excited and happy," she shared.
Meanwhile, questioned on her religious belief, the entrepreneur asked to be left alone, saying "Religion is a personal matter"
"If I am still a Muslim, let me be with my Islam, and you with yours. You do not need to judge me, and we will respect each other. There is no need to say 'Sajat has sinned'... While I appreciate that you feel you need to advise me, but I have my stand, and we just respect each other," she said while hinting that she was leaving Malaysia permanently, using the Malay phrase "cerai talak tiga" for irreversible divorce.