Sarawak govt urged to seek autonomy on citizenship for natives in Sarawak

Peter John Jaban (file photo)

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Dec 13: A Sarawakian activist Peter John Jaban has called on the state government to demand from the Perikatan Nasional (PN) federal government to grant autonomy on citizenship to the state.

Peter said the National Registration Department (JPN) has failed to provide citizenship for some native Sarawakians following the stories of four border scouts who are still waiting for citizenship despite defending the country during confrontation.

Peter was commenting on the hardship faced by 80-year-old Basar Arun, who was a Sarawak border scout but was not recognised as a Malaysian citizen.

“The problem of statelessness is rife in Sarawak, especially amongst the natives.

“The case of Basar Arun is a perfect example of how insidious the issue can be.

“Not only is Basar Arun stateless, so too are his children.

The reasons behind his statelessness also exemplify the roots of the problem in the procedures of JPN,” he said in a statement.

Nonetheless, Peter noted that JPN seems determined to cling rigidly to a small number of documents as administrative proof to allow citizenship, even if that meant denying legitimate applicants their rights.

Peter gathered that many of the natives simply do not have the documents regardless of their birth or parental status and thus their rights as citizens were denied.

He pointed out that JPN Sarawak must be allowed to conduct proper analysis on a case-by-case basis that it is relevant and appropriate to a Sarawak context.

“If the hospital can waive an RM12,000 bill on the basis of Basar’s service medal, why JPN cannot establish his rightful claim?”

“This is why we feel the state must have the power to decide on these matters.

“For many years, Putrajaya have shown a complete disregard for the specific individualities that make Sarawak.

“This cannot be undone but, for the future, our citizens cannot remain at the mercy of their ongoing ignorance of the needs of the state.

“Putrajaya must cede authority to those who actually live here and care about the future of Sarawak,” he added.

With the autonomy on citizenship granted to the Sarawak government, Peter believed that the state registration department can embark on a mass registration drive to ensure all legitimate Sarawakians get their citizenship and enjoy the benefits and privileges which come with them.

Thereafter, he opined that it will put an end to the issues of statelessness among the natives of the state once and for all. — DayakDaily