Fatimah applauds Federal govt initiative to protect stateless, homeless individuals

Fatimah (centre) with two residents of TTG Sibu who have survived homelessness and turned their lives around.

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KUCHING, Aug 4: Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah has applauded the initiative by the Federal government to coordinate protection for stateless and homeless individuals who have been included into the vulnerable groups classification in the country.

Fatimah emphasised that stateless children in Sarawak are different from those in Peninsular Malaysia with most of them being well-assimilated, having lived with their families in the community.

“As such, it is very disheartening for them and for us when they do not have access to education, unless they have a student pass and a passport.

“Our stateless children are mostly the result of either improper marriages between a Malaysian father to a foreign mother or improper adoption,” she explained in a statement today.

Fatimah also mentioned that in the earlier years after the formation of the Sarawak Special Committee on Citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution under the purview of the Ministry, it has experienced some measure of success.

“The Committee set up was to help speed up the citizenship application of stateless individuals especially children so they can have access to education and healthcare.

“The time taken to know the outcome of citizenship application was less than two years,” she added.

On homeless people, Fatimah pointed out that Sarawak has started an Interagency Committee to tackle the homeless issue in 2019 and since then, the first transit for the homeless (TTG) has been successfully set up in Sibu on Jan 28 this year.

“The TTG Sibu provides the homeless with food, a sleeping place, clothing, counseling services, motivation as well as skills training such as weaving, fertigation, car washing, and others.

“We have success stories to share from the initiative whereby seven people have been successfully employed through job matching.

Having been involved in several integrated operations on the homeless in Sibu, Fatimah admitted that the challenge lies with homeless people with mental issues.

Despite that, Fatimah informed that three more TTGs will set up with the one in Miri now in the design stage, while the one in Bintulu will be tendered soon and the Ministry is working with Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) on the renovation and costing for the one in Kuching.

With the latest initiative announced by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday (Aug 3), Fatimah is hopeful that the issues faced by stateless and homeless individuals will be better looked into.

Following the first meeting of the Special Cabinet Committee for Protecting Vulnerable Groups yesterday, the Federal government has decided to expand the definition of vulnerable groups to cover not only the stateless people, but also the homeless, refugees, infectious disease patients and the poor.

Ismail Sabri added that the establishment of this Committee will enable the government to formulate a holistic approach to look after the welfare and wellbeing of these groups and protect them against manipulation, neglect and abuse. — DayakDaily