Now, Sabah-born top-scorer pleads for citizenship too

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Source: Free Malaysia Today

Arly Mai Geanga who failed to obtain citizenship despite being born in Sabah to a Malaysian father and Filipino mother, wants a chance to further her studies at a public university and work in Malaysia. Image from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: A high-scoring stateless student from Sabah yearns for similar assistance as that given to top academic achiever Roisah Abdullah in her pursuit of citizenship, so that she can further her studies and find a job in Malaysia.

Arly Mai Geanga, 22, who obtained seven As in her PMR examination and 8As and a B in SPM, said she could not get an identity card despite having been born at the Lahad Datu Hospital in Sabah.

She said she was unable to gain entry into local public institutions of higher learning, and private university fees were too expensive for her family.

“I am hoping that my case can be highlighted too, and something can be done by the relevant authorities to help me,” she told FMT.

She said the reason provided by the National Registration Department (NRD) for not approving her citizenship application was that her parents’ marriage was not registered.

She said her father is a Malaysian while her mother is a Filipino who is currently applying for permanent resident status.

Arly said she and her family had travelled back and forth from Sabah to Putrajaya after the NRD office in Sabah told them that her application process would be faster in the federal administrative centre, but to no avail.

She said her secondary school enrolment had also been delayed for three months as she had to wait for approval to attend public school.

Her sister had likewise failed to obtain citizenship. Both are now staying in the Philippines with their grandparents to pursue studies at a private university there.

“It was a lot easier to be enrolled there as my mother is a Filipino,” she said, adding that her mother had registered her and her sister there as “children born abroad”.

Arly said she still hoped to live and work in Malaysia as a citizen.

Both her parent are in Sabah where her father works in a biodiesel company and her mother is a housewife.

“My dad has to go to Kota Kinabalu every few months for his kidney treatment,” she added.

On March 12, Lawyers for Liberty highlighted the plight of 20-year-old Roisah, whose application for citizenship was rejected five years after submission.

Although she was born in Klang in 1997, no information was available on Roisah’s father while her mother is a foreigner. She had lived with her adoptive parents who have since passed away.

That same day, PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim called on Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who is also home minister, to help Roisah so that she could enter a local university.