A NON-governmental organisation wants candidates contesting in the Dec 18 Sarawak election to voice issues concerning stateless people.
Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) Rajang branch chairman Bill Jugah said the election was an opportune time for politicians to raise the matter.
Speaking to reporters in Sibu after a talk on Human Rights and Your Role, Bill said he could not be the only voice for the stateless, as the issue needed more attention from the Home Ministry and state authorities.
“This citizenship issue does not only involve the Baleh constituency or Subis.
“It concerns the whole state and country,” he said.
Stateless people are those who have no personal documents, including residents with green identity cards.
“Our branch has received 920 applications on citizenship matters during the last two-and-half years.
“We are helping the Home Ministry to upgrade the standard operating procedure in handling this issue so that those born in Sarawak are not denied their rights,” said Bill.
He noted that the country was losing out in human capital development as stateless people found it hard to get an education or find a job due to the current SOP.
“They were born here and are human resources for the country.
“They are our future doctors and teachers but we are denying them the privilege as they do not have personal documents,” he said.
He added that the stateless, if given citizenship, could contribute to nation-building and government coffers through paying income tax.
Bill also said a different approach was needed to help the stateless gain citizenship.
“I will speak to the National Registration Department director to highlight the weaknesses of the system so that they can improve it,” he said, adding that the government should show that it cares for the welfare of the stateless.