Sunday, September 20

Tawau-born sisters hoping for Malaysian citizenship


KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commission of Inquiry on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah heard the plights of two sisters who faced difficulties in getting education and work due to their status as foreigners despite being born in Sabah.

Eugelynn Esperilla, 37 and her younger sister Ergelynn told the Commission that they were born in Tawau Hospital and hoped to be one day recognized as Malaysian citizens so that they can find better jobs with better pays.

According to the sisters, they both went to school in Tawau despite their family facing difficulties in paying the extra fees imposed on non-citizen students.

However they could not continue their studies further at tertiary level due to problems with their citizenship applications and now had to do whatever jobs they could find to fend for themselves.

Eugelynn and Ergelynn, who were the 100th and 99th witnesses called before the Inquiry held since early this year, said they were both given birth certificates and allowed to apply for identification cards at the National Registration Department (NRD).

However, they had to hold onto the temporary application receipts until it expired, without their application being approved.

According to Eugelynn, she had the receipt from 1988 until 1998 before her father gave up and took her to the Immigration Department to apply for passport instead.

“I went to school at SK Holy Trinity, SMK St Ursula, Tawau. I got my NRD receipt when I was 12 but my late father eventually took me to the Immigration Department to apply for a passport instead, following the instruction of an NRD officer.

“In 2007, I applied for IMM13 together with my other siblings. After that, we were told to apply for Entry Permits in 2010, after which the IMM13 was taken back. And then I was told to reapply for MyPR, which I haven’t got yet,” she said.

Eugelynn said she now made a living as a tailor as finding better jobs was very difficult given her limited educational background, not to mention that she was now only using an Entry Permit as documentation.

The young woman, who has converted to Islam, said she would apply for MyKad after getting her permanent resident identification card MyPR but she did not sound hopeful as she noted that no one in the same situation like her that she knows had ever been given citizenship.

Her younger sister Ergylynn told the same story, saying she wanted to continue her study and even got an offer to enter Form Six but could not enroll due to the issue of her documentation.

The plantation worker’s daughter told the Commission that she pushed through the secondary school despite having to pay RM240 fee.

“There are five of us (siblings). The oldest already has MyPR, the second (Eugelynn) is still using an Entry Permit, the third has green IC, while the fourth and me are also using Entry Permits.

“My parents tried to get me an IC since I was born in Sabah, and they tried many times, but all failed. But now I’m applying for MyPR and if I get it, I wish to apply for a driving licence. After that maybe MyKad,” she said.

According to their statements, their father came to Sabah from Iloilo, Philippines in 1965 while their mother arrived in Tawau in early 70s.

The father was issued a document known as HIF22, before he was given the IMM13 and eventually the green IC together with their mother.

Ergelynn said she too was issued IMM13 in 2011 following an interview at the Immigration Department the previous year.