Formerly stateless girls ace SPM despite issues


Zuraida hugs Rosiah after her approval for Malaysian citizenship.

Zuraida hugs Rosiah after her approval for Malaysian citizenship.

PUTRAJAYA: While a bright student in Klang got her citizenship after an almost six-year wait, a straight As girl in Ipoh is running against time to secure hers so that she can apply to study in a public university.

Newly minted Malaysian citizen Roisah Abdullah, 22, said no children should have to endure her plight.

“I am very grateful that I am finally a Malaysian citizen. But I am hoping that under ‘Malaysia Baru’, such problems no longer exist.

“I do not wish for other children to have to experience this,” said Roisah after receiving documents from the Home Ministry pertaining to her citizenship award yesterday.

Born in 1997 to a Malaysian father and a Filipino mother, Roisah’s birth parents did not register their marriage, which made her stateless. She was then put under the care of a Malaysian woman and raised in Klang.

Things became complicated when her birth certificate was disputed and she had to file a fresh application for a new certificate.

Her application to become a citizen in 2013 was rejected in 2018, forcing her to file a second application in March last year before turning 21.

She was assisted by activist group Lawyers for Liberty as well as Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, who agreed to be Roisah’s legal guardian in order to facilitate the citizenship application.

Her application was finally approved in October last year.

“I did not receive any letter from the Home Ministry that her application was a success, so we had only just found out.

“I am very happy for Roisah as she can finally enjoy the privileges that a Malaysian is entitled to.

“I hope in future the problem of stateless children can be resolved faster. There are a lot of such cases, especially in Sabah and Sarawak,” Zuraida told reporters.

In school, Roisah was a top achiever, having scored four As and one B in her UPSR, nine As in PMR, seven As, one B and one C in SPM, and three As and one B in STPM.She was awarded a full scholarship to pursue a degree in accountancy at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak.

But as a non-citizen, Roisah had to pay a RM240 yearly levy to attend school as a foreigner.

“The next thing I will do is apply for my IC, get a driving licence and have a bank ATM card,” said Roisah.

In Ipoh, time is running out for SMK Tun Saban student from Pengkalan Hulu Mandy Wong Man Ling to apply to take up dentistry at Universiti Malaya as she is not recognised as a Malaysian.

“The deadline is April 2. For now I could only apply as an international student and even that, I am not guaranteed a place,” said the 18-year-old who aced her SPM with 10 As.Man Ling said her parents could not afford to send her to a private university, and she is not eligible for scholarships. “I feel lost,” she said.

Man Ling was born out of wedlock to Wong Kuan Yen and his Cambodian girlfriend who had since run away.

She initially held a birth certificate and was recognised as a citizen.But on entering secondary school, the certificate was changed and she was categorised as “Bukan Warga­negara” (Non-Citizen).

“I was told that the National Registration Department made a mistake when my father first applied for my birth certificate.

“I hope to get my citizenship, so I can further my studies,” she added.

Wong, 40, who works as a hawker in Johor, said he was heartbroken with his daughter’s situation.

“I’ve done whatever I could but to no avail,” he said, adding that he has two other children with another person and they are Malaysians.

“The fault lies with us parents; the children should not be made to suffer.”

“I really hope the government will recognise her as a citizen,” he added.