NGO to Putrajaya: Help stateless kids, inhumane to leave them ‘hanging’

Simon Siah

KUCHING, August 15: Lawyer Kamek for Change (LK4C) is urging the federal government to solve the problem of stateless children quickly as well as create a new standard operating procedure (SOP) to vet the applications for citizenship by this group of people.

Its leader, Simon Siah, said “statelessness is still a big problem” even though several task forces were set up in the last two years to address this issue. To register stateless children, he said Article 15A of the Federal Constitution was used for those under 21-years-old, while Article 19 was used for those above 21-years-old.

“The result was not encouraging as only those applicants who have gone through the task force within a certain period of time were given citizenship,” he said in a statement today.

It has been reported that 4,098 applicants applied for citizenship but only 2,885 applicants were successful. The rest were rejected.

“Although we have no benefit of knowing the reasons for the rejections, it begs the question as to what happen to these children who are without citizenships but continue to stay in Malaysia,” said Siah.

Siah said stateless children did not have any identification papers and mostly there are also no records of their existence; hence their presence in the state and country does create a problem, especially if they are exploited by criminals for the sex trade or to commit crimes.

As there are no records of their existence, criminals could use them as “mules” to commit crimes as they are easily disposable targets, he said.

Siah cautioned that if the statelessness issue was not rectified, Malaysia would eventually be “flooded with stateless persons”.

As Malaysia is a signatory to The Convention of The Rights of the Child, Siah proposed that the federal government remove their reservations with Article 7 of the Convention of Rights for Children and fully rectify Article 7 into a Malaysian Law.

“That way all children born in Malaysia must be registered immediately after birth, with their nationality as a Malaysian,” he said, adding that with the rectification of Article 7 of the CRC into the constitution and law, the national registration department would be empowered to grant citizenship to all children born in the country.

Siah said whatever procedures stateless children have to adhere to, such procedures must be given a time frame and the applicants must be informed of the reason for the objections.

“It is just morally wrong and inhumane to leave a child hanging without an identity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Siah commended Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for announcing yesterday the issuance of blue MyKads to those Indians holding red MyKads.

“Such a move by the PH (Pakatan Harapan) government is definitely commendable and in line with the PH 100-day pledge.

“As reported in the MalayMail Online, Tun Dr Mahathir had said that the next thing to look into is cases of children denied citizenship because their parents do not have proper marriage documents.” — DayakDaily