Pakatan to protest over stateless Indians

Anisah Shukry | November 9, 2012
Thousands are expected to camp outside the National Registration Department in Putrajaya until the government resolves the issue of stateless Indians.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Rakyat will stage a protest outside the National Registration Department (NRD) in Putrajaya on Dec 5 over the unresolved issue of stateless Indians in the country.
“We are going to come with tents, food and provisions and will not move from the area until the government resolves the problem of Malaysian Indians being denied identification documents,” said PKR vice-president N Surendran.
“We expect thousands to turn up, including victims, activists, civil societies, and members of Pakatan Rakyat. Although we cannot say the exact figure, we are already starting the mobilisation.”
Surendran stressed that only Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should be blamed if the NRD’s operations were paralysed on that day – something that he said would be likely to happen.
“We don’t want to do this, but our hand has been forced due to the government’s deliberate policy to marginalise and deprive the 300,000 stateless Indians from earning a livelihood in this country,” he said.
“Considering Najib’s vast resources, he would have little trouble in resolving the issue before Dec 5,” he said, adding that should the matter be resolved before that date, the protest would be called off.
“Pakatan Rakyat holds Najib and [Home Minister] Hishammuddin Hussein personally responsible for the suffering of Indians’ due to lack of documentation.”
Surendran pointed out that Pakatan had pushed for the proper documentation of Indian Malaysians for over a year, but to no avail.
“It is easy for the government to say ‘we will register the Indians, it is a small problem and their number is only 10,000 to 20,000.’
“But I say there shouldn’t be even one person in this country without his or rightful identification documents,” said Surendran.
“We want resolution, and we think this is the only way to get a resolution,” he said, adding that the protesters were willing to camp outside the NRD for days if the situation called for it.
‘Government is lying’
Surendran also accused the government of ordering civil servants to deny issuing identification documents to Indians, particularly those from the lower economic strata.
“This is a deliberate policy on the part of the government to marginalise and push out Indians from mainstream society,” he said.
He also claimed the government was lying about the number of stateless Indians in the country.
“The number of stateless Indians in this country is about 300,000. We state very clearly the government is lying to us when they say the number is 10,000 to 20,000.
“I challenge the government to deny all this based on the evidence I provide.”
One example Surendran gave was Logeswaran Sarathrajan, 10, who was present at the press conference.
The little boy shyly told reporters over the microphone that it was his dream to attend school, but he was not allowed to do so as he did not have a birth certificate.
This was despite the fact that, according to Article 14(1)(b) in the second schedule of the Federal Constitution, he is officially a citizen, said Surendran.
The article states that “every person born within the Federation of whose parents one at least is at the time of the birth either a citizen or permanently resident in the Federation…” is a citizen by operation of law.
“One would think that the government would be fully aware of the provisions in the Federal Constitution. Logeswaran is, by operation of law, automatically a citizen,” said Surendran.
“Basically the education department is in conspiracy with the NRD to deny this child his right to education. And he is only one among 300,000 who suffer the same plight.”
Also present at the press conference was Logeswaran’s father, Sarathrajan Raman, who had been denied an IC even though he possessed a birth certificate.
Meanwhile, PKR supreme council member Latheefa Koya said that PKR would file police reports over every single officer who denied a person of their reghtful identification documents.
“This is to prove that the NRD’s actions are systematic rather than one-off,” she said.

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