KUCHING: Sarawak wants its special committee on citizenship to be revived by the Federal Government to address the issue of stateless children in the state.
State Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said she would seek a courtesy call with Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin to convey the request.
She said the committee, which was set up in 2016 by the Barisan Nasional government at the state's request, had expedited the process of citizenship applications from Sarawak.
However, the committee was discontinued last July by the Pakatan Harapan administration as the Home Ministry decided at the time to set up a special task force to resolve matters related to citizenship applications.
"Now that there is another change in government, we would like to request that the committee be revived," Fatimah told reporters after chairing a meeting on the issue of stateless children and those without personal documents here on Wednesday (July 8).
She said citizenship applications used to take three or more years to be processed, but this was cut to about two years with the special committee.
"This is because the committee vetted through the applications which were forwarded to us from the National Registration Department.
"We made sure all the forms were complete so that the applications would not be sent back and forth.
"We also gave our support to the genuine cases which we submitted to the Home Ministry," she said.
Fatimah added that through the special committee, applications from Sarawak were also processed more quickly, as they were not placed together with those from other states.
From 2016 to last July, 717 citizenship applications from Sarawak were submitted through the special committee.