KUCHING, April 8 — Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing today expressed his concern that most of the 729 residents of Long Singut in the upper reaches of Sungai Balleh in the Kapit Division do not have Malaysian identity documents.

In response, he said he is helping them to apply for birth certificates and identity cards with the Malaysian authorities.

He added, without these documents, the residents are considered stateless.

“They are the second and third generations whose forefathers migrated to Sarawak from Kalimantan in the early 1960s,” he said in a text statement.

“Their children could not study beyond Form 5 even though they obtained good results, nor could the adults seek employment in towns because they have no identity cards,” he added.

Masing, who is also Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president, called on the federal government to resolve the issue of their statelessness.

He urged the state National Department to send their mobile team to Long Singut as soon as possible.

“Unless we settle these problems soonest, we could be accused of not caring for our fellow human beings and we will lose valuable human resources,” he said.

He also said that the Long Singut residents are smart and hardworking, adding it would be a pity “if we lose their skills due to political bias”.