TAIPING: All 11-year-old Tan Jia Yi wants is to be a Malaysian citizen.
Born to a Malaysian father and Indonesian mother, Jia Yi, who turns 12 in a few months’ time, was denied citizenship by the National Registration Department (NRD) as he was born a day before his parents registered their marriage.
His father, Tan Ban Guan, related that after months of gathering documents and hitting brick walls trying to register their marriage, he and his wife were told that they could do so at the NRD in Ipoh on July 26, 2005.
“Coincidentally, my wife went into labour the same day. By the time Jia Yi was born, it was already too late.
“The officer was about to go home and told us to come the next day, which we did,” the 45-year-old part-time mosaic layer and odd job worker said after submitting his son’s application for citizenship for the third time in the last four years.
Ban Guan, whose three younger children are Malaysian citizens, said that Jia Yi also did not have Indonesian citizenship as his wife had not registered the boy’s birth in her country.
“We are very worried for his future. What’s going to happen when he comes of age?
“He won’t be able to further his education, neither can he gain legal employment,” he said.
According to Ban Guan, Jia Yi was being bullied in school for being “different”.
“In the last two years, he has become more aware of his situation and keeps asking us about it.
“He is becoming withdrawn and his grades have dropped,” he said.
Volleyball coach Patrick Morton, who is helping Ban Guan apply for citizenship for Jia Yi, said the boy had queried why he could not represent Perak in volleyball in the State Schools Sports Council meet.
“He is good enough to represent the state. The obvious reason that he has not been selected is because he’s not a Malaysian citizen.
“The boy is a victim of circumstance. We were told that his application will take a year to process.
“Hopefully, it can be done faster since it is not a very difficult case to process,” said Morton.
Asked if he understood what was happening, Jia Yi nodded and said:
“I want to be a Malaysian like my siblings and friends. I am just like them, except that I do not have a MyKid.
“I want to continue attending school and one day represent the country in volleyball,” he added.