PUTRAJAYA, May 6 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration pledged in its manifesto to resolve statelessness among the ethnic Indian community within 100 days of forming the government and delivered on this, said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Expressing pride that the early parts of the pledge have been achieved, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president also announced during a special interview ahead of PH’s first anniversary that his ministry has approved 1,641 citizenship to Indians above the age of 60.
“Among the things that were in the PH manifesto was also the promise to solve the problem of stateless Indians or Malaysian born Indians without citizenship within 100 days.
“This responsibility came under the Home Ministry and I’m happy to say that the early stages of this promise have been fulfilled.
“1,641 Indians above the age of 60 was given citizenship status after they met all criteria as stated in the Federal Constitution,” he said.
Muhyiddin said to that fulfil the promise, a committee was set up to examine the issue of long-standing applications for citizenship.
The committee involved officers from the Home Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry.
He said the committee had looked into issues related to citizenship, restricted identity cards and several pending cases that have yet to be resolved.
The committee was tasked not only with resolving cases that involved the Indian community but others including the Malays who have yet to get their citizenship despite being born in Malaysia or having stayed for a long time in the country.
In March, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy, who is in charge of national unity and social wellbeing, said there are 10 categories of statelessness identified as causing citizenship issues to more than 300,000 individuals involving various races.
Among these are a lack of documents, poverty, birth at home, unregistered marriages, and abandoned children.
Others are the adoption of Malaysia-born orphans, ignorance, apathy, and fear of authorities.
He said the PH government is 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 undocumented Malaysians.
He added that related government agencies are working to outline a comprehensive solution to the stateless issue, in line with the PH government’s manifesto promise.
Waytha said that the government was aware of people’s anxiety especially when the PH government promised to solve the issue of stateless people, which was why they were working to find a comprehensive solution to this issue.
He said these stateless individuals are in a vulnerable position and at serious risk of abuse, neglect and violence perpetuated by limited access to education and healthcare, increased social and financial marginalisation, exploitation and vagrancy.