Immigration Dept: We have no say on education

PUTRAJAYA: The Immigration Department has clarified that a circular on non-citizen children going to school, which has gone viral, was actually a letter in response to queries made by the Education Ministry.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the director of visa, passes and permits had received a letter from the ministry on Nov 28 last year seeking clarification on three issues.

He said the issue of education was beyond the department’s jurisdiction.

The letter had sought an explanation on children who require passports or any other form of valid travel document, children who do not require a passport and; to seek further explanation on the status of children who are non-citizens but have applied to be a Malaysian.

The department had responded to the queries in a letter dated Dec 28.

“In our letter, we explained that children who are foreigners born in and outside Malaysia will need to hold a valid passport of their respective countries so that a pass can be issued for the purpose of their stay here.

“We also said children who are citizens do not require a passport to be in the country.

“Children who are non-citizens but have applied to be Malaysian will still need to have a valid passport issued by their country until they receive their citizenship,” Mustafar said yesterday.

Although the Education Ministry’s letter had asked for an explanation if those born on or after the formation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, require a passport to study in government or government assisted schools, he again pointed out that the department could only speak about what was within its jurisdiction.

“Again, I would like to reiterate that we have no authority to decide on education of non-citizen or stateless children,” said Mustafar.

Earlier reports said the Immigration Department had told all schools that non-citizen children would have to produce a passport before being allowed to enrol in a government school.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has said that stateless children should be allowed to enrol in school even if their citizenship application is pending.

His comments were in response to a report in The Star about adopted child G. Darshana who was initially denied admission to a school in Seremban.

In Johor Baru, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Education Ministry should resolve problems involving stateless children “and not drag the Immigration into it”.

He said approval for stateless children to enrol in schools was the prerogative of the Education Ministry.

On another matter, Mustafar said the department has foiled a human-smuggling syndicate led by a Bangladeshi known as “Abang Bangla”.

The 43-year-old along with a Malaysian were arrested during an operation around 2am yesterday and after weeks of surveillance.

Immigration officers raided a house in Shah Alam and found 50 Bangladeshis in it.

“These people, mostly blacklisted by the department, had travelled from Dhaka to Jakarta and then took a boat to enter Malaysia illegally,” he said.