PETALING JAYA: The issue of statelessness is a critical problem that must be addressed globally as it will not only impact a country negatively but the whole region as well, says Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (pic).
He said Malaysia has been facing an influx of stateless people from Asia for a long time.
“Despite signing the Refugee Convention 1951, we are still receiving a high number of stateless people from other countries in the region, especially Myanmar. The number is only getting higher.
“As a result, we not only had to cope with the financial burden as a host country, we have to face various security risks and social problems, ” he said in his speech during the United Nations High Level Event on Statelessness in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday. The text of his speech was released here.
Muhyiddin said the Malaysian government was still committed to strengthening cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in tackling the problem.
“However, much more needs to be done. Stateless people suffer discrimination, are stigmatised and often live in a precarious environment making them susceptible to illegal activities such as human trafficking and extremism.
“In this context, Malaysia welcomes UNHCR’s ongoing efforts to continue to provide technical assistance to States in the efforts to reduce and prevent statelessness. The Global Action Plan to End Statelessness sets forth practical measures towards this end, ” he added.
Malaysia has taken measures to prevent and reduce statelessness, including adopting more transparent procedures to facilitate applications of citizenship and to prevent Malaysian children from becoming stateless.
“Our revised policies will facilitate the adoption process and help to curb baby-selling and smuggling.
“We are also taking measures to achieve universal birth registration by simplifying procedures and improving access to the process, ” he said.
Muhyiddin said in fulfilling its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Malaysia had also enacted the Child Act 2001.
Malaysia is also committed to address situations faced by undocumented persons, he added.
“A task force was formed to look into existing barriers. As a result, 1,641 citizenship applications have been approved recently.
“We also acknowledge that some sections of the population are at a particular risk of statelessness. This may be because their living conditions makes it difficult for them to register births or obtain related documents.
“They include nomadic and border populations, ” Muhyiddin said.
“The implementation of the MyDaftar programme by the National Registration Department (NRD) has helped those who have been living without documents.
“A total of 227,481 applications in 8,412 separate outreach programmes were facilitated by the NRD from 2012 to 2017. In the first eight months of 2019,1, 066 outreach programmes have been conducted, ” he said.
Muhyiddin was on a four-day working visit to Geneva on Sunday. He is expected to meet UNHCR High Commissioner Filippo Grandi to discuss Malaysia’s role in supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda as well as on the issues of refugee and asylum seekers.