Group criticises Putrajaya for naturalising Kosovan footballer

Human rights lawyer Simon Siah (left) with Rika Herline anak Ji-in (right) outside the Federal Government administrative building where the state NRD headquarters is housed, October 6, 2016. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie
Human rights lawyer Simon Siah (left) with Rika Herline anak Ji-in (right) outside the Federal Government administrative building where the state NRD headquarters is housed, October 6, 2016. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Feb 5 — The Lawyer Kamek 4 Change (LK4C) group said the federal government should not have naturalised Kosovan footballer Liridon Krasniqi after just five years when thousands of Malaysian-born children were still stateless.

LK4C director Simon Siah said it was an insult to those awaiting their citizenship, especially those in Sarawak.

“The action of the National Registration Department (NRD) in fast-tracking Liridon’s citizenship will also not bode well with the thousands of foreign spouses who have been waiting for years and even decades for their applications to be citizens of Malaysia to be approved,” Siah said in a statement.

He was commenting on the Johor Darul Ta’zim player accepting his MyKad at the NRD headquarters in Putrajaya two days ago.

He said the NRD must explain if Liridon’s citizenship was granted according to procedures.

“Under Article 19 of the Federal Constitution, the requirement is that Liridon has to reside in Malaysia for an aggregate to not less than 10 years in the 12 years immediately preceding the date of the application for the certificate.

“He has also to show that he has an adequate knowledge of the Malay language which is to be assessed by the Language Board where Liridon has to show he is able to speak the language, read and write in Malay,” said Siah, who is a practising lawyer.

He said over the years, Sarawakians have had to fight for their citizenship to be approved, citing the case of Rika Herline as an example.

She dropped out of school after she was bullied due to her statelessness.

“After her grievance was brought out in the public by LK4C and the NRD was threatened with a suit, her application was eventually approved,” Siah said.

He noted that the Sarawak state government, through the state Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Early Childhood Development, had formed a task force to help stateless children in Sarawak.

However, he said the task force was abolished last July last year after the Home Ministry formed a special team to handle such matters directly.

Siah said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had promised a proper standard operating procedure (SOP) to expedite the applications from stateless children, especially from Sarawak.

“However, up-to-date, the special team and SOP have not been forthcoming,” he said

Siah said many stateless children have applied repeatedly for citizenship without success.

He cited a case of Rachel Sia who was adopted by Peter Sia and his wife as a new-born in 1999.

“She was previously issued with a birth certificate but when she was 12 years old, NRD cancelled her birth certificate and replaced it with another one which does not contain any information of her adopted parents while her natural parents could not be traced,” he said.

He said without the “proper” birth certificate, Rachel could not further her studies after completing her Form 5.

“I urge NRD to be fair and impartial when giving out citizenship,” he said, stressing that at least 30 children are reported as stateless every month in Malaysia.

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