IT is indeed heartening to know that Rohana Abdullah may soon get Malaysian citizenship after her plight as a stateless person caught the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
But why must it take a call from the PM before action is taken by the relevant authorities to deal with the issue of statelessness that Rohana and tens of thousands of others born in Malaysia are currently facing?
It is well known that many Malaysians have acquired citizenship or permanent residence status in other countries. Malaysians with permanent residence status in Singapore even serve in that country’s national service. However, foreign individuals who love living in Malaysia and want to contribute to the progress of this country as permanent residents or citizens continue to face so many obstacles with immigration bureaucracy.
Why is the process of obtaining permanent residence or citizenship so challenging in Malaysia?
As a result, foreign spouses continue to endure numerous visits to the Immigration Department to renew their visit passes, and talented international students who are earning their PhDs in universities like Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia have a hard time getting legal documents to work and contribute to this country.
We are also punishing refugee children by refusing to allow them to study in our national schools. I once saw refugee students lining up outside a newly established makeshift school at 7.15am. I will never forget the joy I saw on their faces on being given the opportunity to be educated. Why are we not showing humanity to these young people as they await their transition to another country?