290,000 kids left stateless

Nowhere to go: A Suriana Welfare Society representative speaking to stateless children during an interview.

PUTRAJAYA: Kuih seller Lim Lai Poh was over the moon when his Vietnamese wife gave birth to their eldest son in 2007.

Little did he know then that he was to face years of difficulty getting a Malaysian identity card for the boy.

When his son Lim Jia Feng turned two, Lim received a letter from the authorities, instructing him to replace his marriage certificate due to clerical mistakes.

Jia Feng’s birth certificate was subsequently taken by the authorities. A new one was issued later.

The first sign of trouble showed up when it was time for Jia Feng to attend nursery school. The principal noticed that his birth certificate stated that he was not a Malaysian.

Since then, Jia Feng – who is now 12 years old – has yet to get a MyKad.

“We have no idea how to get him a Malaysian IC,” Lim, 48, said.

Ironically, Lim’s second son, born in 2009, is officially acknowledged as a Malaysian.

Lim has written to the National Regis­tration Department (NRD), seeking help for his elder son.

Lim’s predicament isn’t unique.

An adopted son of a 59-year-old widow is also considered stateless.

As she is growing old, she is worried for his future.

In fact, Yau Sieu Kin said her husband was so worried for the youngster that he couldn’t eat or sleep well. He died of a heart attack a few years ago.

Yau tried applying for a MyKad for her adopted son but to no avail.

The boy, Bon Qi Hong, who is now 18, said: “I am not expecting too much, I just want to get citizenship and live a normal life.”

The two families from Tanjung Sepat were among several others who submitted their applications to the NRD in Putrajaya yesterday.

Suriana Welfare Society Malaysia executive director Scott Wong estimated that there are 290,000 children in Malaysia who are stateless and 60,000 of them are without a birth certificate, as at April.

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