Monday, April 22

One man’s 56-year quest for ‘lost’ citizenship continues

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Jalong shows the supporting letter (right) from Long Pelutan village chief Tingang Pahang, and a reply from the Home Ministry on Sept 28, 2018 regarding his application for a blue identity card.

Jalong’s red identity card issued to him in 1963 upon the formation of Malaysia. His birth year is listed as 1943, instead of 1940.

MIRI: For the past 56 years, Jalong Enjok – a Kayan from Long Miri in Baram – has been living as a ‘stateless’ person in that he is neither recognised as a Malaysian nor a citizen of any other country.

This is because Jalong, 79, has been a holder of a red identity card – a permanent resident (PR) – since the formation of Malaysia in 1963 despite having been born in Sarawak.

A copy of Jalong’s PR card and his wife and children’s blue identity card.

In fact, he had even served for just over a year in the police force in 1959.

“I served in the force for only a short period, which was for over a year only. After that, I fell ill and decided not to continue my service.

“That was before the formation of Malaysia in 1963. After the formation (of Malaysia), when I went to collect my new identity card in Marudi, I was surprised when they issued me with the PR card,” Jalong said, adding even his birth year in the red identity card was erroneously listed as 1943, instead of 1940.

He remembered questioning the officer on why was he given the red card, but the officer insisted that he could make changes later.

Little did he know then that the red identity card was issued to residents of Malaysia with permanent resident status.

Unlike holders of the blue Malaysian identity card, he has been unable to enjoy the benefits of being a citizen unlike his friends, families and relatives.

Jalong was born in a big family. He has eight siblings who have all passed on, and claims he is the only one among them not to have a blue identity card.

“In fact, my children born before 1963 were also issued the blue identity card. In their birth certificates, my old identity card number is clearly written.

“Hence, I do not know why my status was changed from a citizen born in Sarawak to a PR status after the formation of Malaysia in 1963.”

Jalong said he sometimes felt like giving up on acquiring the blue identity card now that he has reached the age of 79.

“It’s not that I don’t want to be recognised as a citizen of Malaysia, but it has been a very long and tiring journey for me since 1963.

“I have done all that I could to change my status from a PR to a Malaysian citizen. I have obtained supporting documents from the elected representatives and from my village chief, but my efforts seem to be in vain,” Jalong said.

He added he had visited the National Registration Department (JPN) numerous times asking them about the status of his application, but was told by officers during his last visit to contact the Home Ministry instead.

At his wit’s end, he said he decided to highlight his predicament in the media in the hope that it would get the attention of the relevant agencies.

“I really hope that someone out there would listen and hear my story and help me to re-obtain my identity as a Malaysian which I lost in 1963.

“I may be 79 this year, but I will certainly not give up on my rights to be a Malaysian.”