Tuesday, September 17

Plight over for five siblings in Bau born without Malaysian citizenship

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(From left) Christian, Rachel, Natalia and Rudvan – seen here with Johan and Marta – show their newly-received personal documents. Johan is carrying little Dani.

BAU: Johan Jeprin Sibin and Marta Ripit could not thank the Women and Family Development Council (MPWK), Mas Gading MP Datuk Anthony Nogeh Gumbek and Tasik Biru assemblyman Dato Henry Harry Jinep enough for their help in resolving the citizenship issues affecting their  five children.

Marta, 43, a Bidayuh from Indonesia, married Johan, 53, in Indonesia in 2002. However, as their marriage was not registered in Sarawak, the National Registration Department (NRD) could not register their children as Malaysians.

The couple were at their wits’ end on resolving the matter – until last year, when they finally registered their union as ‘Adat’ (customary) Bidayuh marriage in August.

By obtaining a copy of the marriage certificate, MPWK was able to help register their children as Malaysian citizens.

“I’m very thankful to everyone for helping to get my children’s birth certificates and getting them into school. It’s been a long time – I’m glad that this problem is finally solved,” said Johan when met after the handover of personal documents to the children at the Mas Gading parliamentary service centre here yesterday.

He said they tried to enrol their children in kindergartens but all applications were rejected.

As such, Marta resorted to home-schooling all her children – Rachel Henessy aged 15, Natalia Krisma (14), Christian Yohanson (12), Rudvan Nistelroy (10) and Dani Pedrosa (three).

Explaining further, MPWK Mas Gading chairperson Theresa Dunstan Udam said the MPWK helped the family with the late registration in August last year and later, submitted the application to Kuching Special Mobile Unit on Sept 28.

“We would like to thank the government for the speedy action taken to resolve the matter.

“Previously, people would say about NRD doing things very slow, but this (case) has proven that they are actually very fast in resolving this issue,” she said.

Meanwhile, Bau District Officer Anielia Siam expressed her happiness over the positive outcome of the case.

“We have similar cases, but we have successfully solved one by registering all the children from one family.”

For now, Rachel and Natalia are at SMK Bau, while Christian and Rudvan are at SK Grogo.

However, they have to pay foreigner’s rate for healthcare at the government clinic – a heavy burden for the poor family. Both Johan and Marta are farmers at Kampung Suba Bandar here.

Nogeh’s wife Datin Caroline Jonathan Sabai, who is also patron of MPWK Mas Gading, presented the children with their personal documents. The children also received some books and schoolbags.

Previously, Henry had helped the family build a new house, as their old one was dilapidated and deemed unfit for occupation.

Meanwhile SK Grogo headmistress Lucy Lottey said the two boys, Christian and Rudvan, entered the school in February this year.

“All the teachers were in tears after learning about the children’s predicament. To help them catch up, the boys are put under the charge of special rehabilitation teachers.”

NRD Sarawak officer Amok Johit and SMK Bau assistant principal Liou Jock were among those who witnessed the presentation yesterday.