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KUCHING, Feb 10: SWWS is urging the federal government to fast-track the citizenship applications for stateless children, especially in Sarawak.
Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) president Margaret Bedus in a statement said it is well known that the problem of stateless children is a major challenge in Sarawak.
Hence, she called on all parties to put politics aside and work together to give these undocumented children a secure future.
She noted that it is not only the moral thing to do for their development but also Malaysia’s legal duty under the United Nations (UN) Convention of the Rights of the Child.
“It is crucial (the) federal and state (government) work together, as was happening earlier, if we are to resolve this complex issue.
“Sarawak needs to have a transparent, effective and efficient system to process these children scattered across such a large, rugged state where access to government services due to distance and cost is part of the problem.
“This can only be achieved by cooperation across federal and state agencies.
“For this to work smoothly, federal and state politicians from both divides need to collaborate for the well-being of the children,” she said in a statement.
She believed the children and their parents need both local and national systems working in harmony to achieve their goals.
Meanwhile, Margaret pointed out that in July last year, the state’s Special Comittee lost its working relationship with the federal government via the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is the only body who has the power to grant citizenship.
She noted that a new improved system was promised by December 2019 but it is already February 2020 and none has been announced.
At the moment, Margaret noted there is no special committee nor standard operating system (SOP) on expediting applications for stateless children.
As a result, she calls on all politicians to re-establish such a framework speedily.
“Who knows one of the children could one day play for our national football team,” she asked.
She drew attention to the federal government’s recent move to grant citizenship to Kosovo-born footballer Liridon Krasniqi which she asserted has shown that where there is a need for talent and a political will, Malaysia can bestow citizenship on people even when the usual criteria does not apply.
“SWWS while welcoming Krasniqi to the fold, calls for the same political will to fast track all the children in Malaysia without such crucial documentation.
“Their need is greater as without citizenship they cannot pursue education and apply for jobs despite this country having been the only home they have known.
“Not only do they lose out but also the country loses their collective talents if they are denied such opportunities,” Margaret emphasised. — DayakDaily