KUCHING, Sept 24: The National Registration Department (NRD) has approved 95 citizenship applications for stateless children in Sarawak following a meeting with the Ministry of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development this afternoon.
Its minister, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, said 118 were deliberated during the meeting, and the applicants were all aged 21 years and below.
“More (applications) will be deliberated in meetings to come,” she told a press conference after chairing the meeting at Bangunan Baitulmakmur here.
Fatimah revealed that the approved applications were made between 2016 and 2017, where a total of 240 were received. For the first eight months of this year, another 295 of such applications were received.
“The rest would be deliberated in the coming meeting. They are also being deliberated by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” she said.
Fatimah said her ministry was focusing on applicants of schooling age or those aged 21 years and below because such documents were crucial for their access to education.
“We want our children to have proper education so that they will have a bright future. Apart from having access to proper education, having a Malaysian citizenship would also entitle them for other benefits like schooling and other forms of aid,” she added.
Fatimah thanked the state’s NRD for carrying out several outreach programmes in the rural areas to help the deserving ones become citizens.
From 2015 to August this year, the state’s NRD conducted 196 outreach operations in the rural areas and received a total of 7,588 applications. Out of these, 4,805 aplications were approved, 2,468 were rejected and the remaining 315 were still being deliberated.
“NRD has also been working with us (Ministry of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development), the Immigration Department, MPs and assemblymen in these outreach programmes.
“Apart from that, I would like to urge rural community leaders to play their part and help these agencies gather deserving people to apply for citizenship,” she said.
Fatimah said her ministry and NRD would also like to work with the District Education offices to track down stateless pupils so that they could be assisted. — DayakDaily