Relief, joy for stateless woman

A fresh start: Hashimah holding her new identity card at JPN in Putrajaya after winning her citizenship case at the High Court. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Relief and joy were written all over Hashimah’s face as she clutched tightly to her new identity card.

“It’s hard to believe that I now have an IC. It’s like a dream come true. My nightmare is finally over, depending on how you look at it,” said the beaming 40-year-old.

Her mood, however, quickly changed to sombre as she expressed gratitude that her long wait had finally ended.

“For me, my prayers are finally answered,” said Hashimah, who was overcome with emotion.

Now that she has an identity card and is officially declared a Malaysian, she hopes to find a better job.

Due to the absence of a government-issued document to prove that she is a Malaysian, Hashimah, who helps out at an orphanage in Selayang, could not find a job “outside”.

“With the IC, I want to apply for a job and lead a meaningful life for myself from now on,” she said when met at the National Registration Department (JPN) after collecting the document yesterday.

Hashimah, who only goes by one name as the name of her father is not stated in her birth certificate, said she could now apply for aid such as zakat and assistance from the Welfare Department, adding that it was not possible before this due to a lack of official documents.

Hashimah has lived her entire life as a stateless person.

The only information she knows about herself is what is stated on her birth certificate.

According to the certificate, Hashimah was born on Jan 9, 1983, in Kuala Lumpur.

“I don’t know who my parents are because it is not stated in my birth certificate. In fact, my religion is stated ‘could not be determined’ or unknown.

“The only thing I know about myself is my name and birth date,” she said, having grown up in various orphanages.

Hashimah filed an application for citizenship by operation of law on Feb 25, 2020, but her request was turned down by the JPN in July of that year.

Aggrieved by the decision, she filed a judicial review to challenge JPN’s refusal to grant her citizenship.

On Nov 17 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court declared her a Malaysian.

Recounting her growing-up years, Hashimah said she had been arrested dozens of times by the police because she could not prove that she was a Malaysian.

“At first, I was scared and traumatised by the experience. But after a while, I got used to it,” she said.

Despite going to school, she could not sit for exams due to her “status”.

For Hashimah, obtaining the identity card meant that she could begin a new chapter in her life.

“I don’t want to look back on things that have caused me distress over the years. I want to move on with my life,” she said.

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