Bright student in stateless status dilemma

Added stress: Wong (centre), who is in the midst of preparing for the final semester of her STPM exam, looking through some official documents with her parents at home.

KLANG: For student Wong Yoong Jau, all she wants is a chance to pursue a law degree in one of the country’s public universities.

Wong, who obtained a cumulative grade point average of 4.00 and 3.83 for her first and second semester STPM exams, is confident of obtaining equally good grades in the third and final semesters.

But the main obstacle for the 20-year-old is that she is stateless.

Wong is an adopted child and the whereabouts of her biological mother is unknown.

She said her parents Wong Kwan Yoon, 65, and Chow Mei Chan, 59, adopted her soon after birth from a third party and that they had not met her birth mother.

“They paid the liaison some money and never met up again after that.

“I think my biological mother did not want any links with me – her unwanted baby, ’’ said Wong, who grew up as the only child to her doting parents.

She said her parents had made the mistake of registering her as their biological child when obtaining her birth certificate and faced problems when applying for her MyKad.

“The officers at the National Registration Department (NRD) noticed that I did not resemble my parents as my skin tone was different from theirs, ’’ said Wong.

For years, her parents have been paying a levy at the Education Department for her, as required of all foreign students studying in public schools in Malaysia.

Wong also said her parents had done everything they could for her to become a Malaysian citizen.

“In 2015, the NRD issued me a certificate stating that I’m an adopted child. We have applied for citizenship. I completed all interviews with the NRD and my file was forwarded to the Home Ministry.

“It’s been six years since the process began but we are told that my application is still under review, ’’ said Wong, who lives with her parents in Rawang.

Wong, a top scorer in the STPM exams at her school, said she was worried that she would not be able to pursue tertiary studies because of her unresolved status.

“We are a B40 family. My father earns about RM2,700 a month as a machine operator at a construction site. My mother stays home to care for our family. They can’t afford to send me to a private college, ’’ she said.

Her only dream is to study law and provide her parents financial stability and a comfortable life in return for the love and care they have given her all these years.

Separately, former Human Rights Commission of Malaysia commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said he had been trying to help Wong for over five years.

“Every time we approach the authorities, they tell us that it is still under process.

“Due to this, the lives of bright students like Wong are affected as a result of their status, ” he said.

He added that the government must seriously look into existing policies and make it more humane for Malaysian-born “stateless” children to obtain citizenship.

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Wong Yoong Jau , Stateless


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