KUCHING: Ninety-five out of the 240 applications for citizenship in Sarawak under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution have been granted the letter of approval.
Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah said the 240 applications were received between 2016 and last year.
“The rest are still being processed and awaiting an outcome. It’s sad to see a child without citizenship,” she told a news conference after chairing a meeting with the Citizenship Status Special Committee at Bangunan Baitul Makmur in Petra Jaya here yesterday.
The meeting alone saw 118 new applications, bringing the total number of applications thus far to 535. Prior to the meeting, the committee had received 177 applications since Jan this year.
Fatimah said it is sad and frustrating to see children who were born in this land being denied the citizen status.
“Even the child may think ‘This is the only land I know, how come I’m in this situation?’ The child’s self-esteem will be affected while some friends may even laugh at the child.
“Children without citizenship are deprived of not only education but also other forms of assistance such as welfare aid,” she
Of the new 118 applicants, she said 68 are male and the rest female. As many as 51 of these applicants are aged between seven and 12, and 36 are aged six and below, 25 aged 13-17 and six aged 18-21.
She also noted that the majority of these cases involved mothers whose nationality is Indonesia. Other nationalities include Solomon Islands, the Philippines, China, Thailand and Vietnam.
“A total of 79 of these 118 new cases are first-time applicants while 30 are applying for the second time, seven for the third time and one each for the fourth and fifth time.”
Fatimah said her ministry is very concerned about children not having citizenship because this young group is bound to be deprived of basic right to education. Education is a prerequisite for their future, she stressed, adding that children without the citizen status can neither go to school nor enjoy other welfare benefits.
“Our focus is the wellbeing of the child. Citizenship is the highest award the federal government can give (to stateless children). Only a person without citizenship knows how difficult life can be,” she said.