By Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 27: Ten out of 23 children personally received their Malaysian citizenship approval letters at a ceremony in Wisma Wanita, Jalan Sultan Tengah, here, today.
Minister of Welfare, Community Well-Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah presented the letters to the recipients in the presence of Home Ministry deputy secretary-general (Policy and Area) Dato Wan Dahlan Aziz and National Registration Department (NRD) Sarawak director Abang Noraffian Abang Ibrahim.
“Malaysian citizenship is the highest award anyone can obtain. So, be grateful and be a good citizen,” Fatimah said in a speech during the ceremony.
She added that a similar ceremony would be organised to present the letters to the rest of the recipients, who could not be here today as they are from outside Kuching.
More importantly, she revealed that the Special Committee would continue to handle cases of stateless children in the state.
“We are thankful to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for agreeing that the Special Committee continues to handle the issue of stateless children (under Article 15A of the Federal under special circumstances) and that members of the committee be maintained,” she added.
This outcome was achieved following a courtesy visit on Muhyiddin at his office in Putrajaya on Feb 22.
Muhyiddin also gave assurance that applications for citizenship under Article 15A through the Special Committee would be given special consideration and priority.
“Attention will also be given to citizenship applications under the Article 15A prior to the setting up of the Committee (from 2013 to 2016) for a decision,” she said.
Fatimah, who is the Special Committee chairperson, pointed out that up until today, 682 applications had been recommended and discussed with the Home Ministry since November 2016.
“Out of the 190 applications recommended and discussed from November 2016 to August 2017, 118 applications or 63 per cent have received letters of approval from the Home Ministry while the rest of the decisions will be informed by the ministry through the post to the applicants,” she explained.
In 2016, 26 applications were recommended, while in 2017 (174), 2018 (318) and so far this year (123).
The first group of 46 children obtained their letters of approval on Nov 31, 2017, followed by the second batch with four approvals on Feb 3 and 42 approvals on Feb 14, while the third batch with only three approvals on March 27, 2018.
Among the applications, Fatimah shared they included children born before the parents registered their marriage, children born outside of marriage, adopted children, court order and under the care of guardian(s).
The Special Committee was set up on Aug 26, 2016, and their functions include filtering and verifying the citizenship applications before submitting the recommendations to the Home Ministry.
Fatimah reiterated that the state government was serious and committed to helping stateless children acquire their citizenship so that they could enjoy and access the numerous privileges and benefits in education, healthcare, welfare, economic, employment and others.
Assistant Minister of Women and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus and Home Ministry chief assistant secretary Amirul Asyraf Ismail were among those present. — DayakDaily