Child with Down syndrome granted citizenship after eight-year wait

KUALA LUMPUR: After an eight-year wait, a girl with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, residing at Rumah Kasih Harmoni Paya Jaras (RKHPJ) in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, finally received her Malaysian citizenship.

Sungai Buloh MP and Deputy Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister, Datuk R. Ramanan, said the citizen application for Irdina Saffiyah Abdul Fattah was approved last week and the joyous news was shared with the care centre manager.

Ramanan recounted how Irdina's case was brought to his attention last January by the guardian and manager of the welfare home, Jamaluddin Wahab and since then he has been in constant contact with Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, advocating for Irdina's citizenship.

"I am immensely grateful to the Home Minister for his concern and support. Now, Irdina, will be able to enjoy all the rights and privileges of being a Malaysian citizen," Ramanan shared in his Facebook post.

With her citizenship now secured, Ramanan expressed hope that Irdina would soon be able to apply for a Person With Disabilities (OKU) card, to allow her access to special education and affordable healthcare, paving the way for a brighter and healthier future.

"Irdina was abandoned at birth in the baby hatch of the University of Malaya Medical Centre. After being referred to the Social Welfare Department, she was placed at RKHPJ.

"Born with Down syndrome and a congenital heart defect, Irdina requires regular hospital treatments to survive. However, at two years old, she only received a non-citizen birth certificate, as no documents were found with her.

"Because of her non-citizen status, Irdina's medical treatment costs were much higher than those for citizen children, who receive government subsidies. Even more heartbreaking, despite her disability, Irdina was denied the right to education and could not attend a special education school or the Community-Based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme without a OKU card," he explained.

Ramanan expressed his hopes for Irdina's good health and promised to continue supporting her, envisioning a bright and successful future for the child.

He fondly recalled a recent visit from Irdina and her guardian to his office. Her cheerful greetings and spontaneous 'high five' instantly brightened the atmosphere.

"The joy I felt in that moment is indescribable. Irdina holds a special place in my heart," he shared. - Bernama

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