KUCHING, Aug 1 — The federal government needs to expedite the citizenship applications for cases involving stateless children in Sarawak, says Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.

In a statement, Fatimah voiced her dismay that approval takes too long, hence depriving stateless children of education, health and welfare opportunities as well as affect their general well-being.

“I wish Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin would open his heart to the cases that have been deliberated and supported by our (Sarawak) Special Committee for Citizenship under 15A,” she said, while adding that these cases had been brought to his attention for final approval.

According to Fatimah, stateless children are being deprived of their basic rights to education and employment and are faced with a bleak future in their birthplace.

She said the Education Ministry insisted that these stateless children apply for a student pass from the Immigration Department, including making a passport before they can be allowed to study in a government school (as they cannot afford to go to a private school).

“They have to go through the hassle to fulfil the requirement made by the National Registration Department (JPN), Immigration and Education Department; and not forgetting the costs incurred in meeting these requirements.

“Yet, at the end of the day, they are only told that their applications are being processed by the Home Ministry,” she lamented.

Fatimah was commenting on news reports of former stateless child Rohana Abdullah who has been offered a place in Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) to take up a diploma course in computer science.

Rohana, who accepted the offer, obtained her citizenship status and an identity card last April after her story went viral and caught the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Since she was two months old, Rohana has been raised by her Chinese ex-teacher, Chee Hoi Lan, after being abandoned by her biological mother who returned to Indonesia.

Rohana’s father is said to be a Malaysian. Due to not having identification documents or an identity card, Rohana previously had difficulties getting into university. — Borneo Post Online