“Don’t treat me like an alien. This is my country.”
This is the constant plea of Letchumy Ramasundram (below, left in photo) from Nibong Tebal, who expressed frustration as she has been trying to secure a proper MyKad for close to 12 years, but with every attempt ending in failure.
The worst, she claimed, was being naive enough to hand over her documents to a BN component party in Jawi last year, and never to hear about her application again from the individuals involved.
“I was often discouraged by people who asked me why I need a blue identity card (IC) when I am already 50-years-old. I tell them I want it so I can vote, get a proper job and get better hospital benefits.”
She is dumbfounded as to how she was stuck with a red IC when both her parents have birth certificates, while her eldest and younger sisters both have blue ones.
“I don’t even know exactly what age I am or where I was born but my dad often tells me I was born in Kuala Kangsar. Some people tried to take me to Ipoh to apply for my IC, (but) none of the attempts have been successful,” Letchumy said sadly.
Without a blue IC, she has been unable to go to school or even find a proper job, she said when met at the Penang National Registration Department (NRD) at Jalan Anson today.
Instead, she claimed she is forced to take up odd jobs as a dishwasher and cleaner in people’s homes.
Motivated by Sabah RCI
Letchumy is one of the some 30 stateless persons – among them senior citizens and children – who joined a rally at the NRD, organised by Pakatan Rakyat this morning, to seek birth certificates, blue identity cards and citizenship.
They were prompted to push the issue further after the on-going royal commission of inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah revealed that foreigners – Indonesians, Filipinos and Pakistanis – had obtained “instant” citizenships.
Meanwhile, for Mariam Yaacob (left), a single mother of two, life has been one rollercoaster ride as she tries to get her children registered with the NRD.
Her two girls – aged six and seven – do not have birth certificates, which means they can’t be admitted to public schools.
“Both their birth certificates were lost after I gave birth to them at the hospital in Kuala Lumpur. I tried to go back to the hospital to ask them if I can get a new one but they always turn me down,” said Mariam, who is trying her luck in Penang.
“When I go to the NRD, they also refuse me, telling me that my children can’t have their birth certificates as their father is a Hindu, while I am Muslim,” she claimed, adding that her husband had abandoned the family.
Zero documents to prove
In the case of Ooi Ah Suan, she has no documents to prove if she is an immigrant or a Malaysian citizen, while both her parents are nowhere to be found.
However, Ooi insisted that she knows she was born around the Snake Temple, in Bayan Baru, and was adopted by a local family.
Due to her statelessness, she, too, was deprived of an education and, in later years, devoid of work.
“This situation also affects my school-going child. I had to use the name of my husband’s first wife, who is a Thai, to get my child proper documents,” the 35-year-old claimed.
She also claimed that she had previously met with former Pantai Jerejak assemblyperson Wong Mun Hoe, but was told “there is nothing he can do”.
Tan Boon Hoay’s plight is not much different from Ooi’s except that she has a green IC, which states its validity ends in 2015, and that she is “bukan warganegara (not a citizen)”.
“I feel very frustrated because of my condition. Already I do not know who my parents are, and my adopted parents have not been able to get me proper certificates,” said the 32-year-old mother-of-two, who claims she was born and bred in Bukit Mertajam.
“That is why I am here, I hope I am able to change my green IC to blue. I am a citizen of Malaysia. I was born, grew up, and married a citizen here”.