KOTA KINABALU, 18 August 2016: Close to 50 per cent of the complaints received by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Sabah this year are documentation issues, with 130 cases filed as of August 16, this year.
Head of Suhakam Sabah, Jasmih Slamat said documentation issues had overtaken land matters in the total number of complaints received by the commission since last year.
This year, a total of 281 complaints have been lodged to Suhakam Sabah as of August 16, of which 130 documentation issues, including children with birth certificate issue or have yet to receive identification cards.
This marked an increase from 79 and 74 cases of citizenship-related complaints received by Suhakam Sabah in 2015 and 2014 respectively.
Jasmih said the drastic increase in documentation cases was because parents wanted to send their children to school.
“There are a lot of children behind 1Borneo who want to go to school as they grow up, although their parents cannot afford it, because their friends have gone to schools.
“And the first thing that schools request are documentation (of children).”
On late registration of identification card, he said some parents had waited till their children had to take the Form Three Assessment Examination (PT3) only then they went to the Magistrate Court to seek endorsement.
He said these children without identification cards suffered from mental pressure upon seeing their friends who own proper documentation.
“They feel ashamed of themselves.”
Jasmih said children without identification card or birth certificate were denied education, access to government healthcare and better job prospects.
In addition, he said these undocumented people missed out on employee’s benefits such as protection under Social Security Organization (Socso) and contributions to Employees Provident Fund (EPF).
“There are also those who are unable to defend themselves when they are penalized by employers for not following certain orders because if they do, their employers may call the enforcement to arrest them.”
Jasmih said that when meeting 10 families who faced documentation issues at Suhakam Sabah office here yesterday.
The families were brought there by Sabah PEople’s Right Association president Lee Pun Yee. Most of the families have children who have yet to obtain Malaysian citizenship or identification card due late marriage registration of their father with migrant spouse (after their child was born).
He said among the actions undertaken by Suhakam Sabah was to refer the case to the relevant authority.
For instance, he said a teenager had come to Suhakam office here last year, crying because he could not find a job without document.
“It is disappointing because when he tried to deal with the relevant authority and he was treated poorly.”
Jasmih said Suhakam Sabah subsequently referred the case to the Home Ministry via letter dated January 27, 2015.
On June 28 this year, the Home Ministry ordered the National Registration Department (NRD) to issue a temporary resident identification card to the teenager which is valid till December 3, 2020.
Asked if the teenage boy needed to reapply for temporary residence, Jasmih replied that the decision was the prerogative of the Home Ministry.
“To me, it is better than nothing at all.”
Jasmih said the teenager worked for a chicken farm and had to ride along when transporting chicken, that was when he sometimes ran into trouble with the enforcement.
He said Suhakam forwarded the cases to the relevant authority based on the facts and documents presented by the complainants.
“Although all the cases are related to documentation, the gist of the cases is different. Some of the cases are due to one of the parents who is a non-citizen or late application of birth certificate.”
Nonetheless, he said Suhakam has the advantage of receiving a response from the Home Ministry on such cases compared to individual appeals.
In addition, he said the Home Ministry would also explain the reason an application had yet to be approved and the additional documents required.
Also present was Suhakam Sabah assistant secretary Aflin Dino.