THERE are numerous misconceptions about statelessness and those who are claiming citizenship in Malaysia. The government’s mischaracterisation of statelessness and lack of urgency have allowed these misconceptions to persist, obscuring and complicating what are essentially solvable issues.
The truth is that many people who are stateless in Malaysia are not foreigners, refugees or “illegal” migrants. They were mostly born and have been living all their lives in Malaysia and thus possess the genuine and effective link with the country that entitles them to claim citizenship. To put it another way, they are Malaysians but for the documents and other evidence required to prove their citizenship.