Ministry: 14,095 stateless children recorded since 2003

  • Nation
  • Monday, 17 Nov 2014

PETALING JAYA: According to the Home Ministry’s records, there were 14,095 children whose citizenships were yet to be determined between 2003 and April this year.

Most of them – 87.7% – were in Sabah (8,128) and Sarawak (4,236). Other places where children whose citizenship status is in limbo included Selangor (480) and Johor (302).

The Government has been studying a proposal to issue a special iden­t­­i­fication card to anyone whose citizenship “has yet to be determined”.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this could help resolve issues faced by such people. Among others, the government had in 2010 even proposed DNA identification to solve the long-standing issue of stateless people.

Based on National Registration Department (NRD) records, there are three categories of citizenship status – Citizen, Non-Citizen and “Yet To Be Determined”.

A “Yet To Be Determined” status could be due to a marriage not being recognised, the mother’s citizenship undetermined, incomplete documentation or that the child was abandoned.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said in an exclusive interview with The Star in July that as a result of non-registration at birth, there were also children who had grown into non-registered adults with non-registered children of their own.

Without birth certificates, they are unable to work in the formal sector, get a passport, driving licence, bank loans, vote, marry legally or even register the birth of their children.

Between 2008 and April 30 this year, the Home Ministry received applications from 9,372 people to become Malaysian citizens.

A documentary by non-governmental organisation, Voice of the Children (VoC), on stateless children claimed that there were about 100,000 such children in Malaysia.

According to the VoC’s website, these children do not legally exist, and were vulnerable and “defenceless” against exploitation.

In June last year, The Home Minis­try received assistance from the Health Ministry to register all births in government hospitals and clinics in Sarawak to reduce cases of late registration, especially in rural areas.

The Home Ministry also revealed then that there were close to 6,000 late registrations not recorded with the National Registration Depart­ment (NRD) in Sarawak but noted that these cases involved just those who had come forward to register.

A year earlier, the government had already prepared the initial draft of terms of reference on the issue while the Royal Commission of Inquiry was also told to investigate the long-standing problems related to illegal immigrants in Sabah.

The RCI was tasked to look into measures to deal with the thousands of stateless children left behind by their immigrant parents.

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