Liridon’s fast-tracked citizenship a slap in the face to stateless children across Malaysia

KUCHING, Feb 5: Lawyer Kamek for Change (Lawyer Kamek) is appalled with the granting of citizenship to Kosovan-born footballer Liridon Krasniqi whilst thousands of Malaysian-born children remain stateless until today.

The NGO said the action of the National Registration Department (NRD) in fast-tracking Liridon’s citizenship will not bode well with the thousands of foreign spouses who have been waiting for years and even decades for their application to be a citizen of Malaysia to be approved.

“It is a smack in the face to hundreds, if not thousands, of the stateless children in Malaysia and for us particularly in Sarawak,” said Lawyer Kamek in a statement today.

Lawyer Kamek said whether or not the Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) midfielder had gone through the proper process of being naturalized as a citizen is something that NRD has to answer to the public.

“Under Article 19 of the Federal Constitution, the requirement is that Liridon has to reside in Malaysia for an aggregate of not less than 10 years in the 12 years immediately preceding the date of the application for the certificate.

“Not only that, he has to show that he has an adequate knowledge of the Malay language which is to be assessed by the Language Board where Liridon has to show he is able to speak the language, read and write in Malay.”

The NGO said that over the years, Sarawakians have had to fight to get their application for citizenship approved.

“Rika Hertine was one of this young children who had to stop schooling because of being bullied and shamed and being known as a stateless child.

“After her grievance was brought out in the public and the NRD was threatened with a suit, her application was eventually approved.”

The Sarawak State Government through the Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah formed a special task force to he!p stateless children in Sarawak.

The task force was eventually abolished in July 2019 whereby Home Affairs Minister has promised that a special team will be set up and that a proper SOP will be in place to expedite stateless children application especially in Sarawak.

“However, up-to-date, the special team and SOP has not been forthcoming,” said Lawyer Kamek.

It pointed out that some applicants had applied more than four times since the age of 12 years old and are still waiting for their applications to be approved. Such was the case of Rachel Sia.

Rachel Sia was adopted by Peter Sia Chew Ong and his wife Lau Kui Fua in the year 1999 when she was only a few days old.

Rachel was previously issued with a birth certificate but when she was 12 years old, her birth certificate was taken back and cancelled by the NRD. Her current birth certificate does not contain any information of her biological parents as they could not be traced.

“Thereafter, they (Rachel’s adoptive parents) have on several occasions applied to NRD for citizenship but was futile.

“The most recent application was in 2017 and until today, they were just asked to wait. Rachel has finished her Form Five and is looking forward to further her studies. However, because of this situation that she is in, she is stuck and cannot go any further.”

Lawyer Kamek went on to describe how it has taken an emotional and mental toll on Rachel, although she hopes one day to be finally recognised as Malaysian.

“Rachel is one of the many applicants who are struggling everyday with the tag of being a stateless person living in Malaysia and yet the NRD nonchalantly just gives away citizenship to just simply anyone,” said Lawyer Kamek. —DayakDaily