KUCHING: To most Malaysians, the MyKad is just a personal document that we carry around and give little thought to but for Rachel Sia, the MyKad means everything to her. The teenager has been trying for many years to apply for it so that she can enjoy its privileges as a citizen and to be able to travel and see the world.
But time is running out for the stateless 19-year-old as she will no longer be eligible to apply for citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution after she turns 21.Back in 1999, she was adopted by Peter Sia and Lau Kui Fua.
When she turned 12 in 2012, they tried to apply for citizenship for her but were not successful.
“The National Registration Department told us that her birth certificate was not in their records.
“They issued a new birth certificate, which did not include citizenship as her biological parents could not be traced,” Lau said.
The couple tried again in 2013, 2016 and 2017 but were rejected each time with no reason given.
Lau said they reapplied once more on March 1 this year under Article 15A for citizenship registration under special circumstances.
Last week, they presented Sia’s case to Home Ministry officials and state Welfare Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah, who chairs a special committee on stateless issues, during a handing over ceremony of citizenship approval letters here.Lau said the prospect appeared good as they received a call from a department official in Putrajaya, asking for more details on Sia’s application.
“We are more hopeful now after the call on Monday. At least, someone cares about our situation and we appreciate the government’s action,” she said.
Appealing to the department, Lau recalled how Sia endured hurtful teasing from her schoolmates because she did not have a MyKad.
“She had tried to run away from home and even thought of killing herself. She cannot sit for government exams, open a bank account or travel outside of Sarawak.
“We have been trying to find a way to get citizenship for her so that she can have a bright future,” Lau said.
Sia said she felt “very empty” due to her stateless status.
“I can’t go on trips with my friends. They asked if I could join them to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore but I couldn’t because I have no identity card.
“My hope is to be given a MyKad. I want to finish my piano lessons and travel around the world,” she said.
Lawyer Simon Siah, who assisted the family in the application, said alternatively, Sia could apply for citizenship by naturalisation under Article 19 when she reaches 21.
“This is more difficult because she would be categorised as an illegal immigrant or migrant and the sympathy factor is not there.
“Under Article 15A, the ministry has the discretion to grant citizenship. As Rachel will turn 21 in less than two years, her case is urgent,” Siah said.