detained for 11 months because can’t proof citizenship

September 9th, 2008 by poobalan | View blog reactions Leave a reply »
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This is indeed a tragic story. A young lady who pregnant was detained in Brickfields and kept in immigration detention depot for 11 months – during which she gave birth to a healthy baby boy (10 months old now!). Reason – she was unable to provide proof that she was a Malaysian citizen. 22 year old M. Rajeshvari who was educated up to primary school only, and speaks on a smattering amount of Malay language, could not remember her IC number (which she had lost), and could not provide accurate details on her background. She was jobless. Not in talking terms with her family members, so no one came looking for her. All this led to her detention for 11 months. Due to a stroke of very good luck, her case was forwarded to Malaysian Indian Youth Council vice-president Andrew Raju, who did the necessary follow-up and finally secured her release. She managed to remember her primary school name in Kampar, and Andrew tracked down the rest of the information from there.

Rajeshvari’s lucky release happened because a staff member at a clinic where Logekali was treated for food poisoning last week had alerted Malaysian Indian Youth Council vice-president Andrew Raju. “After my arrest, I kept telling the authorities I was Malaysian but no one believed me,” said a tearful Rajeshvari. Raju, when met outside the depot, said the officers did not pursue her case further as Rajeshvari could not give the right IC number or her parents’ address. “In the beginning, I also had a hard time checking her out because the information she gave turned out to be dead ends, until she recalled her primary school,” he said. Raju then contacted the school’s principal in Kampar in Perak, who managed to trace Rajeshvari’s birth certificate number. Raju then went to the National Registration Department in Putrajaya to get a letter confirming Rajeshvari’s citizenship.

Suhakam is angry with this treatment. Its commissioner Denison Jayasooria said:

One should get to the root of how the verification was done. Holding a citizen like that is a violation of human rights. “If language was a problem, they should have had an interpreter to get to the bottom of it. If it were not for the intervention of the clinic and a voluntary organisation, she would still be in there. He noted that there could be various reasons for her inability to communicate, adding that Rajeshvari may have been terrified, not of sound mind or not confident. “What safeguards are there? How can such a thing be avoided?” Dr Denison said, adding the Immigration Department must be held accountable and that an apology was not enough.

Sound logical too. Language shouldn’t be a barrier.

However, the Immigration Department’s official had a different view:

Immigration Department enforcement chief Datuk Ishak Mohamed said that the burden of proof of citizenship was on the person suspected of being an illegal immigrant. “The new Criminal Procedure Code also allows the suspect to make phone calls to anyone who can help,” he said, pointing out that the police had picked her up, not Immigration officials. “But, please, don’t tell me that after 22 years, you cannot speak Bahasa Malaysia? You mean she would not know how to sing Negaraku either?” he added.

To answer his question – I doubt the girl knows what Negaraku is in the first place. We are talking about primary school dropout, not university graduate. Where in the world can she listen to Negaraku if she last heard it 10 years ago in school? We are looking a someone from poor background, weak in studies, maybe from broken family, and without interest in studies. Would she had the interest to remember Negaraku? A jobless person who is pregnant and being caught by police, stuck in Brickfields, can’t remember IC number because lost the IC – who will she call? What phone number will she remember? But she should be faulted for not being able to talk in Malay language. At least some rojak or bahasa pasar also will do. But wait a minute, even the foreign workers who are in Malaysia for a year or two can speak good (passable) Malay! Does it mean she have to speak like SPM A1 student?

Samy and Dr S.Subra were also talking about this between themselves in the funeral yesterday. They were also wondering how a person could not remember IC number and could not speak Malay language.

I think its a stroke of really bad luck for Rajeshvari that caused her this problem. Lack of education, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, and coupled with bad judgement and lack of initiative by the officials, all led to her misery.

Hopefully, this will be a lesson to all.



  1. prabu says:

    well…I agree with u…But can’t she rember her own indenity card number.This is certainly not a valid reason…I do however sympathise with her.If she is singapore…she can’t speak english and can’t remeber her indentity card..she would be in trouble too…I don’t blame her,actually but her parents who didn’t give her good education….atleast she must know,some basic level of communictaion in malay…if you attend primary education..u will be able do that…unless of course,you went to a tamil school…which does not teach the national laugauge…most likely they are living in their own world..I have also come across many indian and srilankan illegal nationals….maybe their malay might be better than her…even,raju had hard time tracking her details…This show’s her case is not as simple,as it look’s.I can tell,there are lot of illegals…with fake or stolen mykads impersonating indian malaysians…if raju went to the primary school….for instance,they didn’t have former records….after,all it is more than 10 years agao…I am sure,she will be deported to india or srilanka…Tamil education is essential,but ignoring our national laugauge would not be in our best interest…atleast some basic converstational level…we also cannot blame others for own short-comings..There are such people in our community,how does MIC or other relevant leaders intent to help them co-exist with the rest of society?

    • poobalan says:

      correction – tamil school teaches the national language! there’s a period of BM everyday, plus extra classes for exam going children. the root of this problem is not the school, but the student itself. she may have no interest in studies. it is highly unlikely that she scores As in all subjects except BM in primary school. Tamil school students do have problem writing in BM, but not many are unable to converse even a little BM.

      People like this exist in all communities – there are also Malay students who fail BM paper, while there are Chinese who studied 11-12 years in primary and secondary chinese schools, with poor command of BM.

      It is not only the responsibility of the politicians or government, but also the parents and community itself to ensure that children go to school and get armed with at least basic education.

      • Killer says:

        You know I am from Tamil school and once I used to be a temporary teacher as well. Under the KBSR the time allocated for Tamil and BM is huge compared to previously. if you can’t read, write or speak Tamil and BM, then there is something very wrong with you.

        I don’t think this case is straight forward, there is more to this case than what is being revealed here.

        • poobalan says:

          i also think that its some other problem. most likely its the fault of the official. from the news reports, we can “feel” that the girl is able to converse passable Malay. The overzealous officials may have decided that she is an immigrant without much investigation.

    • mmuurrllyy says:

      hello prabu, which prabu are u? are living in malaysia? im not from a tamil school, but i know that tamil schools teach Bahasa Malaysia (national language). This shows you are been to ignorance on what is happening in the community. Please back up and get some knowledge on what you want comment.

      • prabu says:

        The point,I way want to put across….is not whether they teach malay as second laugauge…but,the level of emphaise some schools…not all schools.They spend more time highlighting on tamil laugauges…rather than relevant technical and lingustic technical skills.Of course,it’s not entirely the school’s that to be blamed..their parents…the father works as driver for a assembleyman..I am sure he must communicate in malay at one point or another.If,rajaeswari had not run away from home,the possibilty of she will be living in indian enclave (possibily that particular area of lot of indian house-holds,talk in tamil,see tamil movies,converse in tamil only….their world is limited to this indian enclave’s.Indeed malay lauguage is taught in all verenacluar schools…But,as mentioned above,some schools have limited usage of national laugauge…It vary’s from school to school…of course,majority of our indian students excel in this lanugauge…but,a significant
        portion still lack’s behind…you must need to know atleast converstaional level of communication…which can easily achieved,even you have some years of primary education….the curriculm of tamil schools also vary’s from one to another,which would have impact on the students… end of the day,it is people like rajeswari who are this IGNORANT lot in our community….when,you lack behind….you have no one else to blame but yourself….


  2. santhi says:

    People like this in our community,one of the reason,why we don’t have equal rights? This people,after so many generations still are very much like those people,in tamil nadu.They are living in their own world.They don’t have any attachment to malaysia and can’t indentify themself as a malaysian.I am sure the immigration and police officals have indian officers,they too had a hard time,validating her claim.I realy pity her and the child