Stateless not isolated, Masing says amid food aid dispute

Tan Sri James Masing

KUCHING, May 29: The small number of stateless indigenous people are not excluded from the state government’s food aid as they are not living on their own but mostly with their Sarawakian extended families.

Highlighting this, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing emphasised that the food aid distributed to vulnerable households in the rural areas would also benefit the stateless indigenous people who are members of the extended family they are staying with.

“There are some indigenous Sarawakians residing in rural areas who have no documentation and, hence, considered as stateless. However, the so called ‘stateless’ don’t reside on their own.

“Most of them are members of Sarawak extended families, thus, when food was distributed to each family in the rural areas, the stateless individual being members of the extended family are also included,” he said in a statement today.

He was responding to a statement by Sarawak Suhakam Commissioner Dr Madeline Berma who highlighted to DayakDaily that the stateless indigenous people are those most affected during the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the reason for the hardship was that some of them, due to their status, excluded from relief assistance.

As such, Masing pointed out that assuming that these stateless people were excluded from the food aid is not quite accurate.

“The list of households to receive food aid was obtained from the Resident and District Offices which are generally accurate,” he said.

As for stateless individuals residing in urban areas, he added that they will be assisted but provided that the elected representatives of the areas submitted their information to the Divisional Disaster Management Committee.

“Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research and Nangka assemblyman Dr Annuar Rapaee has tried to get the list of families in Sibu who may need help.

“But he didn’t get much assistance from the other elected representatives in Sibu to get the list. Perhaps the families who did not submit their particulars are the ones who suffered,” he said.

More importantly, Masing pointed out that the critical challenge for the state government was to get Sarawakians without documentation to be registered.

“The problem arises for these stateless Sarawakians is in getting education. Without documentation, their children cannot proceed beyond Form Five. They are smart, but without documentation their education stops!” he said.—DayakDaily