Time to resolve plight of stateless people..

There is no genuine government effort to register the affected communities nor is there any special procedure provided to facilitate their registration....By Eric Paulsen....I refer to the recent controversy generated by the protest of some 200 Malaysians of Indian origin outside Parliament demanding for the blue MyKad that would certify them as citizens. While the actual number is subject to “guesstimate” – a not uncommon challenge – the number, whether it is 30,000 or 300,000, should not be the issue. One should always bear in mind that statelessness is normally a hidden phenomenon and lacking in reliable data.

Instead, there should be an acceptance that there are stateless communities with genuine and effective link with Malaysia – and that these people have rights under Malaysian and international laws and norms including freedom from discrimination, the right to a nationality and its accompanying rights and duties. While these people of Indian origin are not denounced as non-citizens by the authorities, they are nonetheless stateless as they are not considered citizens under the operation of law. It would come as no surprise that the majority of those who protested are rubber plantation workers or their descendants who have lived a life of exploitation and continue to suffer from government neglect and institutionalised discrimination that are well documented elsewhere. Suffice to say, many continue to live in poverty, remain poorly educated and skilled, and with no means to acquire a better living.

Serious social problems
As a consequence, some Indian children are not properly registered after birth, leading to the inability to acquire the MyKad although some may acquire the red permanent resident card. There are myriad and overlapping reasons: parents’ own uncertain citizenship status and lack of documents, poverty, birth at home, abandoned children, unregistered marriages, ignorance, apathy, and fear of authorities and fines due to delay in registration. Without the MyKad, these bona fide Malaysians have difficulties in fully accessing the rights and services that ordinary citizens enjoy or take for granted despite being born and permanently residing in the country all their lives. These rights and services include better education, health care, employment and business, housing and property ownership, social security, freedom of movement, political participation and voting right, holding a passport – all of which leads to serious social problems and to a cycle of statelessness that is handed down to the next generation. There is a serious lack of concern and care by the government and its agencies on these issues. There are only small-scale initiatives by concerned civil society organisations and political parties who raise awareness among the communities affected and assist in their application for birth certificates and identity cards.

Liberal reading
There is no genuine government effort to register the affected communities nor is there any special procedure provided to facilitate their registration despite knowing the historical inequities and the context of their present circumstances. These “problematic” applications are treated on a case-by-case basis, and they are usually hampered by administrative obstacles, burdensome requirements, long delays and require repeated visits and interviews.
Even then, these cases are rarely resolved despite fulfilling the general citizenship requirement, that is, a person must be born in the country after Malaysia Day and whose at least one parent is a citizen or permanent resident; or who is not born a citizen of any country. For the older members of the community who failed to take steps to acquire citizenship before Merdeka, or were born after Merdeka (but before Malaysia Day), surely they are now more than entitled to a liberal reading of the citizenship provisions and be accorded citizenship whether via operation of law or naturalisation. Rather than be distracted by the accompanying politics and expected controversy surrounding citizenship issues or quibbling over numbers, or worse – saying that it’s too “sensitive” to do anything – let’s use this opportunity to discuss and start resolving statelessness affecting the Indian community and also, among others, people of Filipino refugee descent in Sabah and undocumented Orang Asli and Asal. Eric Paulsen is co-founder and adviser to Lawyers for Liberty, a human rights and law reform organization based in Malaysia. He has researched statelessness in Bangladesh, Nepal, and most recently in Burma.

No blue MyKad, no school .....FMT .....The Form 5 student may never get the chance to sit her SPM this year.Student B Reshina, 17, is studying hard for the SPM this year but she may never get to sit the examination. For she has just received the shocking news – she must stop schooling all because she does not have a blue MyKad. Reshina was one of the many Indians in the country who are stateless because the National Registration Department (NRD) has refused to grant citizenship for vague reasons. She together with several other families were brought to the PKR headquarters here today to relate their ordeal as stateless Indians. Speaking on Reshina’s behalf, her sister, Gowre, 24, said two weeks ago, Reshina’s school in Gombak, Chong Hwa Secondary School, stopped her from schooling after receiving instruction from the state education department. “The state education department should not have stopped my sister from going to school as she is preparing for the SPM,” she said. “Reshina was told that those without a blue identity card cannot study in schools. Although some of her teachers protested, the school could do nothing as it was a directive from the department,” Gowre said. Reshina had since temporarily stopped schooling but her family is working to get the decision reversed.

No standard rule
Gowre, a clerk, claimed that the NRD refused to grant Reshina a blue MyKad because of the uncertain citizenship status of their mother, A Maria. She said that their mother left the family many years ago and did not leave behind documents to prove her (Maria’s) citizenship. “Although my father holds a blue identity card, our mother’s status is unknown and we are not able to locate her,” Gowre said. Her mother’s citizenship is stated as “bukan warganegara” (not a citizen) in Reshina’s birth certificate. Gowre said while she and another older sister hold blue MyKads, Reshina and their unemployed brother Dhinesh Kumar were not granted citizenship. She added that the NRD did not seem to have a standard rule in awarding citizenship. “When we asked the NRD in 2007 about this, we were told the rules have since changed. Now, it seems the applicant’s mother must be a citizen for the children to be given a blue MyKad,” she said. In February, Gowre said they made a fresh application to Putrajaya but have yet to receive any reply. Meanwhile, Reshina said she hoped the matter can be sorted out as she wants to go back to school as soon as possible. “I hope I can get back to school so that I can sit for my SPM,” she said.

Deprived of basic right....
Another stateless Indian, bank officer G Vasantha Lakshmi, 27, holds a red MyKad, although she was born in Kuala Lumpur Hospital in 1985. (Holders of red MyKads are categorised as permanent residents.) Speaking on behalf of Vasantha, her mother S Selvi Lingam said she adopted Vasantha from a welfare department in Kedah. “The department didn’t have her birth certificate and gave us an adoption certificate instead. So we had to do all the work to get her a birth certificate,” Selvi said. But in 1996, much to Selvi’s horror, a senior registrar at the Petaling Jaya NRD officer declared Vasantha a non-citizen and stamped the status on the latter’s adoption paper. “It has been a nightmare since then. Despite numerous attempts to meet the officer, she refused to meet us and only sent her clerk to see us,” Selvi said. She said that she also went to several government departments to seek help but to no avail. Since then, Vasantha had been living with a red MyKad. “We even approached former MIC secretary-general S Rajagopalu in 1997 for help, but he told us that we should be grateful that Vasantha has a red identity card,” Selvi claimed. Vasantha said that she submitted a fresh application for MyKad to the NRD in Putrajaya in 2009 and was called for an interview in March 2010. She added that an officer asked her what she would do if she was awarded citizenship. “I told him I will vote for the country. I also told him that I wanted to further my studies and buy a house for my mother,” Vasantha said. But to her dismay, her application was again rejected in July 2011. No reason was given. Selvi said she was fed up with the entire ordeal and is thinking of filing a civil suit against the government for depriving her daughter of a basic right. “Her employer wanted to send her overseas for training in the past, but she was unable to go as she could not get a passport,” she said.

Stateless Indians: PKR shows proof...FMT ....A census taken in 1991 revealed that 200,000 of them went 'missing', says Subang MP R Sivarasa, and the figure could be much higher now PKR today provided a document to substantiate its allegation that there were about 300,000 stateless Malaysian Indians in the country. Speaking at a press conference at the party headquarters today, Subang MP R Sivarasa provided a census report made in the 1970 by then chief statistician of Malaysia, R Chander. “Chander is a renowned statistician not only in Malaysia but also in the region,” Sivarasa said. Also present were PKR vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar, N Surendran, supreme council member Khalid Jaafar and Kapar MP S Manickavasagam. Also at their side were several Indian families who were denied citizenship by the National Registration Department (NRD). Sivarasa explained that Chander’s projection for the population increase for 1990 for the Malay and Chinese communities was accurate. “Chander projected that the Malay population would increase from 8 million to 8.9 million in 1990. In 1991, the census showed the Malay population was about 8.5 million.” Sivarasa added that the Chinese population was about 4.6 million in 1991, which was in the range of Chander’s projection of between 4.5 million and 5.4 million. “Chander projected that Indians would be between 1.4 million and 1.6 million in 1990 but the census showed that there were only about 1.3 million Indians. What happened to the rest?” He attributed the lower figures to the mechanism used when the census was done in 1991, saying that the government only counted those with blue identification card. “It’s already 2012 and I believe Surendran’s 300,000 estimate is a conservative figure. It could be much more now,” Sivarasa said. He said the government should look into the matter as a Malaysian problem, adding that the right to citizenship is guaranteed under the Article 14 and 16 of the Federal Constitution.

MIC hoodwinking Indian community
Meanwhile, Surendran said that the stateless Malaysian Indians were victims of a systematic effort by the authorities to deprive the latter of their basic rights. “And there are two groups here. One is those carrying red MyKads and the rest who have no birth documents whatsoever,” Surendran said. Criticising the MyDaftar programme, he said the programme was an attempt by the MIC to hoodwink the Indian community. He produced a letter from the NRD addressed to MIC secretary-general S Murugesan where the former rejected an application of citizenship from one G Vasantha Lakshimi, under Article 19 of the Federal Constitution. “Why did the MIC apply citizenship for Vasantha under Article 19? That legislation is for foreigners. Vasantha was born in Kuala Lumpur. So, has the government been treating her as a foreigner all this while? asked Surendran. In a related matter, Nurul said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein must explain the matter with immediate urgency. “And MIC must stop making this into a racial issue. This is a Malaysian problem and the bureaucracy is a hindrance to resolve this issue,” she said. Last Thursday, Surendran led a protest at the Parliament gates urging the government to solve the stateless Indians issue urgently. In a related development, Murugesan said that he will send his officer tomorrow to PKR headquarters to collect information from Surendran over the matter. “This is not about partisan politics. Let’s work together to help the Indian community,” he said.

Karanraj Sathianathan · Top Commenter · As 80% of the Malaysian Indians are very poor and most marginalised BUT both Barisan and Pakatan do not care AS CLEARLY WRITTEN BY COLUMNIST SISTER MARIAM MOKHTAR IN HER ARTICLE 'THE FORGOTTEN RACE IN MALAYSA' - and HINDRAF IN 2007 MENTIONED IN ONE OF ITS 18 RESOLUTIONS ABOUT GRANTING CITIZENSHIP TO THE 450,000 STATELESS INDIANS' - BUT now just before 13th General Elections both MIC and Pakatan are putting up last minute DRAMAS expecting the Indian voters to fall for their sudden interest in the welfare of Indians. MIC in past 55 years from a partner level along with MCA and UMNO dropped to servant/slave level in 1969 till today. It cannot do anything at all for the benefit of the Indian community. So, it uses lies of getting this and that from Najib and majority are LIES as I published the actual figures of Malaysians gained entry into the 20 public universities for 2011/2012 period - for Indians it was 1,511 or 3.66%. But last year Palanivel and coward Subramaniam boasted and cheated the Indian community telling Najib gave the highest number of places and he was the only PM who really cares for the Indian Community - they said Indian students got 9% and more scholarships. Even the number of scholarships been reduced. Anyone wanted to get actual figures and what's happening in our education system, which opportunities available but lost as MIC didn't have anyone to go through this, please read Sunday Malaysia Nanban articles or contact Mr. A. Thiruvenggadam at 017-6470906, e-mail a.thiruvenggadam@yahoo.com. He is well versed and knows how the government give new, new opportunities and Malays know them all but Indians including all Indian parties in Barisan and so called Indian leaders in Pakatan do not know. I get the facts and figures from Mr. Thiruvenggadam and publis in my articles or comments.

Gerard Samuel Vijayan Lourdesamy · Top Commenter · Managing partner at Gerard Samuel & Associates
The ball is now in the MIC's court. To be honest even Malay officers in the NRD have told me that they pity these stateless Indians but that their hands are tied because the government gives priority to Indonesians and those from other Muslim countries simply to boost the numbers of Malays/Muslims in the country. If Najib is genuinely concerned about the plight of these Indians, the NRD should be told to process all applications within the next 3 months and give those deserving their citizenship. But with GE13 around the corner the NRD in tandem with the EC is preoccupied with creating "instant citizens" who are of Indonesian, Bangladeshi or Pakistani origin so that they can vote for UMNO/BN. One wonders how many terrorists and criminals from these countries have benefited from this illegal exercise.

Lim Kok Heng · Top Commenter
It's rather baffling to note that foreigners (mostly illegals) were undeservedly granted citizenship in an instant although they recently "arrived" here whereas our fellow Malaysian brothers and sisters were unjustly denied theirs even they were born and bred here for decades.

Sugumaran Krishnan · Top Commenter
MAKE INDIANS CRY = MIC is so busy now and wants to work together with KEADILAN to solve the MY KAD and BC matters, where were you guys all this days, were you fellas deaf, dump and blind for 54 years, or were hoodwink by UMNO.

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Malaysian Indian Ethnic Cleansing by UMNO led government

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