KUCHING: The faces of 46 successful applicants, all of them under 21, were brimming with joy after they received letters of approval to become Malaysian citizens during a special ceremony here yesterday.
Minister of Welfare, Community Well Being, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said the significant moment brought a great sense of accomplishment to the Special Committee on Citizenship Status which was specifically set up in September last year to address the issue of stateless children in the state.
“I am overjoyed that our efforts to help stateless children to obtain their citizenship is fruitful, and most importantly, put an end to the tortuous wait.
“I am very happy because these children will finally be able to enjoy the privileges and benefits provided by the government, especially in education and welfare, so that they will be able to lead a productive life,” she said at the presentation ceremony held at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka premises in Petra Jaya.
The recipients came from places such as Kuching, Sibu, Serian, Miri, Tebedu, Daro, Tebakang, Sarikei, Baram, Mukah, Bintulu, Bau, Balingian, Maludam and Kapit.
This achievement, Fatimah said, marked a big milestone for the special committee, and showed that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is serious in fulfilling its promises.
“We are thankful especially to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is also Home Minister as well as the relevant state and federal departments and agencies for making the children’s dreams a reality,” she added.
These first batch of successful applications under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution have gone through extensive processes of verification and discussion by the Special Committee on Citizenship Status, which is chaired by Fatimah.
Fatimah also said that since the Special Committee’s establishment, 242 applications have been verified and discussed on a case-by-case basis before being submitted to the Home Ministry.
“The Special Committee has met 13 times since its inception. We meet every month without fail,” she said.
She urged the recipients to appreciate and value the Malaysian citizenship, and with it to be eligible for benefits, privileges and access to numerous benefits in education, healthcare, welfare, economic, employment and many more.
“I believe there will be more (successful applications) to come in the near future,” she added.
Assistant Minister of Community Well Being Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, secretary of National Registration and Organisation Division in the Home Ministry Zamari Mohd Ramli, National Registration Department (NRD) Citizenship Department director Mohamad Shukri Nawi and state NRD director Jasni Jubli were also present at the function.