KUALA LUMPUR, 3 Oct 2008: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) wants the government to set up a special task force to look into the growing problem of ‘stateless’ Malaysians.
Commissioner Datuk N Siva Subramaniam said the issue needed to be addressed urgently.
“It is sad to learn that some Malaysians still do not have identification documents now.
“This is a violation of the basic human rights as no eligible Malaysians should be denied the rights of citizenship,” he told Bernama when commenting on the rising number of cases of ‘stateless’ Malaysians.
Last week, odd-job worker P Ragu travelled with his family from Johor to Perak to seek the help of Perak’s Sultan Azlan Shah in obtaining a MyKad, after having used a temporary identification paper since 1998.
MIC secretary-general Datuk Dr S Subramaniam has estimated that at least 20,000 Indian Malaysians were still without identification papers.
He said this could be just the tip of the iceberg.
He said Suhakam had handled many of such cases before and very often, the National Registration Department (NRD) would say the process of obtaining identification documents was a complicated matter and would take a long time.
“This problem has lingered on for too long and it seems there are no serious efforts taken to solve it.
“If the problems lie with the system or the bureaucracy, then change the system or simplify the procedures,” he said.
He also suggested that the NRD hired more officials who could speak the relevant language to help the affected people register for their identification documents.
Subramaniam said there was also a need for more awareness and educational programmes to help parents recognise the importance of registering their children, especially in rural areas.
Meanwhile, Siva said Suhakam would also investigate another case where a 78-year-old Sino-Kadazan in Penampang, Sabah, was issued a red identity card with a permanent resident’s status after she lost her blue identity card (for Malaysian citizens).
“Such a thing should not have happened. This shows how inefficient the NRD is. How can they simply take away the citizenship of a rightful Malaysian,” he said. — Bernama