Federal govt urged to consult state govt on critical policies, issues

Datuk John Lau Pang Heng

KUCHING, July 31: Sarawak Patriots Association (SPA) is calling on the federal government to regularly consult with the Sarawak government on important policy issues including citizenship issues.

Its chairman Datuk John Lau expressed concerns over the decision by the Home Affairs Ministry headed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to discontinue the Sarawak Special Committee on Citizenship.

It was reported that instead, a special task force will be formed at the federal level to handle citizenship applications, including those from Sarawak under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

Lau reminded the federal government that Sarawak is an equal partner in the formation of Malaysia which took place on Sept 16, 1963.

“Sarawak is not a state under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), but a partner in the federation,” according to Lau, in a press release today.

“For a partnership to work well, regular consultations between the federal and Sarawak governments are crucial to avoid letting down the Sarawak government on important issues,” he emphasised.

Lau also pointed out that Sarawak, with its own immigration law, has the power to regulate immigration matters in Sarawak, apart from the Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance 1951 (CAP 10 for Sarawak).

“Moreover, Sarawak was declared self-ruling on July 22, 1963 and it was gazetted as Sarawak Independence Day.

“As such, letting the Sarawak government process citizenship applications would definitely be much faster as we do not have citizenship applications from other states in Malaysia to deal with,” he opined.

Now that citizenship application processing have been taken over by the federal government, he was concerned that the process may take longer than expected.

Lau disclosed that SPA has received complaints from organisations saying that it took the federal government a long time to approve security licences.

“Some said it could take more than three years and (yet) still no news on it. Security licence is under the Home (Affairs) Ministry as well.

“We hope that the federal government’s machinery can speed up the process of approving the citizenship applications,” he added.

Muhyiddin has on Monday (July 29) given assurance that the special task force, to be headed by the ministry’s director-general and deputy secretary-general, would expedite and resolve all matters relating to such applications.

On the discontinuation of the special committee, chaired by Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, he explained that citizenship registrations, applications and processing came under the jurisdiction of the federal government, not the state government.

“It is a federal matter. The state special committee was set up to assist in this.

“But now that we have the special task force, we think we don’t need to burden the state government with this duty,” he said, adding that the state government had been informed about this.

Muhyiddin thus called for continued cooperation from the state government and elected representatives to bring up citizenship issues directly to the state National Registration Department (NRD) director or federal headquarters. — DayakDaily