Sarawak State minister Fatimah Abdullah hopes to resolve the plight of schoolgirl Rika Herline, who is regarded as stateless by the Registration Department.
Fatimah, who is Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Minister, had a meeting on Monday with several parties concerned, according to a Borneo Post report.
She intends to meet the National Registration Department, its legal adviser, and the Sarawak 4 Sarawakians (S4S) group and the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association.
On Thursday, Rika and her father, Jiin Ngampu, took part in a demonstration at Bangunan Tuanku Haji Bujang with other stateless children. The demonstration was organised by S4S and SADIA.
It is learnt that Fatimah had a meeting in Putrajaya on Aug 15 with Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to discuss abandoned children in Sarawak. The National Registration Department regards abandoned babies as stateless.
Under the federal constitution the government has special powers, “in such special circumstances as it thinks fit” to register children under 21 as citizens.
A spokesperson for S4S said the NRD legal adviser is expected to brief Rika’s parents on how to resolve their daughter’s plight.
The spokesperson said Rika dropped out of school, SMK Tebakang, because she couldn’t produce a MyKad.
Rika was born in 1999 to a Malaysian father and Indonesian mother. They had been married in 1998 in a ceremony under Adat (customary law), but later carried out a civil registration in 2005.
It is believed that the traditional marriage certificate was not recognised by the Registration Department on the grounds that it had not been registered with the Sarawak Native Customs Council (Majlis Adat Istiadat).
Rika’s application for a MyKad was rejected in 2013 and 2015, as the department held that the 2005 marriage certificate implied that she had been born out wedlock. NRD’s policy is to consider a child born out of wedlock to a foreign woman as taking after the mother’s nationality.
Under the Federal Constitution, anyone under 21 with one parent who is a citizen may be registered as a citizen.
FMT Reporters Online