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KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is currently in the final stages of consultation with various stakeholders and will be submitting papers to the cabinet for its final approval to solve the issue of stateless children and un-documented Malaysians.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy said that the government was aware of the people’s anxiety especially when the PH government promised to solve the issue of stateless people and thus, they were working to find a comprehensive solution to this issue.
“The government is also aware that these stateless individuals are in vulnerable position and at serious risk of suffering abuse, neglect and violence perpetuated by limited access to education and healthcare, increased social and financial marginalisation, exploitation and vagrancy,” he said in a statement issued here today.
He said that there were various reasons as to why individuals, a sizeable number of whom were Malaysian Indians, had become stateless and undocumented.
These included their parents’ own citizenship status, lack of supporting documents (dating back to pre-Merdeka years), poverty, abandoned children, unregistered marriages due to one of the spouses being stateless and ignorance among others, he said.
“The Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (MITRA), an agency under the Prime Minister’s Department has, based on case studies, identified 10 varying categories of stateless persons and challenges in their objective to be conferred citizenship within the ambit of our current laws,” Waytha Moorthy said.
MITRA, he said, was also currently working with related government agencies to outline a comprehensive solution to the stateless issue, in line with the PH government’s manifesto promise.
He also said that the existing provisions of the Federal Constitution had been narrowly interpreted by civil servants and there was a lack of empathy and willingness to use their discretionary powers within the ambit of the Federal Constitution.
Meanwhile in Kuching, Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah who is the Sarawak Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development said the granting of citizenship was the highest award given by the federal government to individuals who were non-citizens.
She said the granting of the citizenship was also an effort by the government that wanted Malaysians to enjoy the various facilities provided beside having a comfortable life.
“We do not want to see children born in Malaysia to face hardship in obtaining education whereas their biological parents are Malaysian citizens,” she said.
Fatimah said this at a function to hand over the Citizenship Approval Letter at Wisma Wanita, here today.
She said the Special Committee on the Citizenship Status was set up in 2016 and had obtained the agreement from the Home Ministry. — Bernama