Lo takes Home Ministry to task over granting of citizenship

Lo (left) addressing a press conference as Chee Kiat looks on.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Jan 17: Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang is demanding answers from the Home Ministry as to why the citizenship application of a stateless young man was denied, while his sister was granted.

Jong Chee Kiat, 21, and his 22-year-old sister, were born out of wedlock to a Sarawakian father and a Singaporean mother at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).

Because their parents registered their marriage late, the Jong siblings did not qualify for a Malaysian citizenship under law.

Ten years ago with the help of Lo, they applied for citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

Strangely, his sister was granted Malaysian citizenship three years ago but Chee Kiat application has been rejected several times.

Lo criticised that the federal government has failed to take care of the predicament of these stateless children and that they should give back this autonomy to Sarawak.

“Obviously, the federal government don’t know how to and not capable of handling this situation. The problem is still not solved. Give us back this autonomy so that Sarawak can solve this problem for Sarawakians,” he told a press conference held at the Padawan Municipal Council today.

He pointed out that these stateless children including their parents faced so much hardship and difficulty in wanting to lead a normal life because they were denied of their rights for education, employment, mobility to freedom.

“I fail to understand what is so difficult about it (granting Malaysian citizenship to those who qualify).

“What will happen to the future of these children? It is demoralising to these children. It is through no fault of these children that they are born into this predicament where their parents were not married when they were born,” he said.

Referring to Chee Kiat’s case, Lo said he failed to understand what was so difficult in confirming that he was born in Sarawak when Chee Kiat has two other younger siblings who are Sarawakians, as they were born after their parents have registered their marriage.

“I find this situation ridiculous. I feel very bitter and frustrated because I know they are innocent and yet I can’t do anything about it. I can only bring this up for the attention of the government.

“I hope the Pakatan Harapan government can do something about this. This is unfair to Sarawak,” he added.

For the last 10 years, Chee Kiat said he has been living a life like an illegal immigrant with constant fear of authorities because he does not have a MyKad.

“My life is just in this city or confine to 10th Mile (where he lives) because going around is risky and difficult especially when I come across the authorities as I will be interrogated and such.

“I only have a receipt to show that I am applying for citizenship but I have a birth certificate,” he continued.

Chee Kiat, who cannot have a proper job, works as a helper in coffeeshop, hopes he can be granted citizenship and get his identity card. — DayakDaily