State gives helping hand to those with citizenship issues

Kinderjit (seated) with her son Kadhminder Singh, 15, (left) seeking help from an official during the Penang Citizenship Programme at a restaurant in Kepala Batas, Penang.

SINGLE mother Kinderjit from Punjab, India, has been living in Malaysia for the past 20 years but she is still unable to obtain a Malaysian permanent residence (PR).

According to the 42-year-old, the main reason her applications were rejected was because she was not fluent in Bahasa Malaysia.

“After a divorce with my husband 12 years ago, I’ve tried to apply for permanent residence with the National Registration Department but it was always rejected.

“Without a PR, companies see me as a foreigner and they are unable to hire me. I’m merelygetting an income by helping out at local temples,” she said at the state government’s Citizenship Programme road show at a restaurant in Butterworth, recently.

Kinderjit was among hundreds of people who sought advice from the authorities about their citizenship applications.

Contractor Ho Yam Kong, 51, also brought his 76-year-old mother Foo Lin to the road show with the hope of obtaining a blue MyKad, as she was still using the red MyPR card.

Ho said under the MyPR card, his mother is not eligible to vote in elections.

“My mother was born in Ipoh, Perak, and grew up there but her family failed to register her birth. After marrying my father, they moved to Penaga in Butterworth, where she raised two sons and two daughters.

“I’ve tried over the past five years to get her a MyKad but to no avail as she is unable to speak Bahasa Malaysia. Her wish is to vote in the general election and be acknowledged as a Malaysian citizen,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy, who launched the programme, said most of the individuals without a citizenship were from poor backgrounds and the absence of a MyKad made it hard for them to obtain welfare aid and other assistance from the government.

“Sensing the seriousness of the situation, the state government established this programme three years ago in the state’s five districts. To date, 44 people have succeeded in obtaining their MyKad or MyPR, and we have also submitted numerous citizenship applications to the NRD.

“I urge the NRD to speed up the application process and suggest that those aged above 50 with children who are born in Malaysia, to be automatically granted citizenship.

“Applicants aged above 50 and born in Malaysia should also be exempted from taking the Bahasa Malaysia writing exam,” he said in his opening speech.

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