Sarawak to issue temporary documentation to eligible stateless children to access education, health facilities

Fatimah (sixth left) receives a token of appreciation from Dayang Morliah while other dignitaries look on at the Kuching Autistic Association's (KAA) Autism Awareness Campaign held at Pustaka today (April 9, 2022).

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, April 9: Sarawak will issue temporary documentation to enable stateless children under the age of 21, who are waiting for approval for citizenship status, to have access to education and health facilities in the State.

Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said a special committee would be set up to review the application and eligibility to have the temporary documentation.

However, she stressed that the exercise and the issuance of the temporary documentation are only meant to facilitate or assist the stateless person in applying for access to education and health facilities in the State.

“It is not a representation nor a promise whatsoever to obtain Malaysian citizenship, which the State government appreciates is a power vested in the federal government,” she said at a press conference held at Sarawak State Library (Pustaka) today.

She implied that the move was part of the State government’s efforts to assist stateless children below the age of 21 who were deprived of access to education and health facilities within the powers of the State and not to seemingly ‘overtake’ the absolute power of the federal government to grant Malaysian citizenship status under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

Asked about the total pending citizenship applications in Sarawak, she said the answer lies with the Home Ministry as the approval process was not through Sarawak National Registration Department (NRD).

She explained a special committee was established under Article 15A to facilitate citizenship applications in Sarawak.

It was first established in 2016, but it was abolished in 2019 following a change in the federal government. Last year, it was revived under the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

Thus, Fatimah’s ministry only has the data for the period when the special committee was in force.

Earlier, Fatimah officiated at the Kuching Autistic Association’s (KAA) Autism Awareness Campaign held at the same venue.

At the event, she launched a book titled ‘Into A New World’ authored by KAA co-founder Roselind Wee which deliberates on challenges the latter had faced in bringing up her son in the 1990s when very little was known about autism that also led to the establishment of the association as the first autistic centre in Sarawak.

She also launched the ‘The Broken Tajau’ book authored by Victoria Siaw, of which the proceeds will be donated to KAA.

On March 4 last year, the State government presented a grant worth RM4.179 million for the KAA to build a second educational block at its premises in Jalan Desa Wira, Kuching.

The new building will house a Sheltered Workshop, an Autism Art Gallery, a café, a shop, a self-service launderette, teaching rooms, a conference room, and open activity spaces for the autism community.

Also present at the event were Deputy Minister of Community Wellbeing Development Mohamad Razi Sitam, Sarawak Social Welfare Department (JKMS) director Noriah Ahmad, KAA patron Dato Dayang Morliah Datuk Awang Daud, and KAA president Dr Catherine Chen. ― DayakDaily