PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty has urged the home ministry to resolve the problem of stateless children as their futures are at stake.
Human rights lawyer N Surendran said such cases had been occurring for a long time, yet nothing had been done.
Speaking at a press conference on the wrongful denial of citizenship to young Malaysians, he said there were many children who were born in Malaysia but had been denied their fundamental rights by the government, including the National Registration Department (JPN) and the home ministry.
“Under the Federal Constitution, the children are entitled to citizenship, but their rights have been denied.
“The authorities have breached the law by not following the provision under the Federal Constitution,” he said today.
He said there had been an alarming rise in the number of stateless children, with more parents coming forward to seek help as their children were unable to attend school due to the lack of documents.
Surendran, who is also Padang Serai MP, said he had received many similar cases in his constituency.
“We have no concrete figures on the cases because even the government has not come out with any figures,” he said, adding that there were believed to be over 300,000 cases although the figure had been disputed by the government.
Among those present at the press conference was 20-year-old Roisah Abdullah who was born in Malaysia but failed to obtain citizenship.
Although she was born in Klang in 1997, no information was available about her father, while her mother is a foreigner. She had lived with her adoptive parents who have since passed away.
Roisah’s application for citizenship was recently rejected, five years after submission.
“It is a waste of opportunity for Roisah, as she was a top student in her school but could not apply to enter university because of her citizenship status.
“All this while, she received no health benefits, and she can’t even open a bank account.
“Her future is bleak,” Surendran said, adding that the home ministry needed to look into Roisah’s case so that she could continue her studies.
Karthiyani Ragunathan faces the same predicament. She has a Malaysian parent and is the 8th out of 11 children in the family.
She is the only one among her siblings who has not been able to obtain citizenship as she was born at home.
Surendran said JPN had denied her application due to a lack of documentation.
Malaysian father of two, Lim Chun Jih, is also having trouble getting his children registered as he had not registered his marriage.