PETALING JAYA: The problem of stateless children continues to affect East Malaysia, with at least 38 of such cases reported in Sarawak.
This was revealed by Destiny for Children (DFC) chairman Chris Tang Tiong Kin, who yesterday told State Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister Fatimah Abdullah that currently there were 38 stateless children studying in the centre in Sibu, Sarawak.
According to Borneo Post Online, Tang, in a briefing session with Fatimah, also expressed concerns over the situation as these children were facing trouble in pursuing their education after completing Standard 6 at the centre.
This, he said, was because stateless children had no identification documents, including birth certificates.
The children became homeless due to several reasons, including the absence of relevant documents as their mothers could not be found or because they were foreigners, he said.
Tang added that this had caused the children to be involved in theft and glue-sniffing.
Fatimah, in response, said the government could not simply award citizenship to anybody as it was “priceless”.
“With that, you are able to enjoy many benefits. It is a popular request and the Home Ministry has to do it carefully,” she said.
She urged the centre to help these stateless children apply for citizenship through a task force formed by the National Registration Department (NRD) to help natives from Sabah and Sarawak.
“We have requested the Home Ministry to speed up the process of application for children or individuals below age 21, and the home minister has agreed.”
She explained that the Home Ministry was responsible for awarding citizenships, not the NRD.
Fatimah then praised the centre for providing basic education and meals for these children who were mostly from the lower-income group and were “left out of the mainstream”.
FMT Reporters Online