Posts Tagged ‘Hindraf’

Hindraf not taking part in Bersih rally

June 22nd, 2011
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Found out that HINDRAF will not be participating in Bersih 2.0 rally. According to Uthaya, its because they don’t want to support the PR team this time.


Hindraf Makkal Sakti will not be participating in the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally, said its leader P Uthayakumar.

“We are not participating because Pakatan Rakyat failed to endorse our 18-point demand made in 2007,” he added in a press statement.

Uthayakumar was responding to a news report that linked the Hindraf rally to the first Bersih rally in 2007 that swung public sentiment against the government during the 2008 general election.

The former Internal Security Act detainee said back then, the movement supported Pakatan because it did not have a choice.

“Hindraf did not have a political choice but to give the unconditional political directions to support Pakatan. But after the 2008 general election, it became more plain and obvious that PKR, DAP and PAS like the Umno-BN regime only wanted Indian votes,” he said.

He added that the situation was different now because Hindraf has a political platform, namely the Human Rights Party (HRP).

However, Uthayakumar said Hindraf will back Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan on the condition that HRP is allowed to contest 15 parliamentary and 38 state seats in the next polls.

“We are committed to politically ending Umno’s rule of Putrajaya; we support Pakatan taking over Putrajaya and even Anwar becoming the next prime minister of Malaysia but on condition of HRP’s ‘Project 15/38? as the internal check and balance mechanism so that the Indian poor are not segregated or excluded from national mainstream development of Malaysia,” he added.

He also indicated that there were proposals for another Hindraf rally to be held on Nov 25.




Puchong devotee burn himself over Temple or School issue

November 9th, 2010
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I think this is the talk of the town at the moment. This temple is near my house and I visit it few times a year. I even have its website on my blog roll. Its a well known temple, and currently they are on a donation drive to build a wedding hall. Was supposed to donate, but now I want to find out more info before giving away money.  The temple is just next to SJKT Castlefield and is blocked from from LDP by the new furniture shop.

A temple devotee (also MIC Puchong Information Chief – according to a twitter message) burned himself in protest over temple demolition. More news came out later and things became clear. There is no temple demolition, but two “structures’  – one is a toilet and the other is a large storage room to keep the temple chariot and other stuff. The story (according to the news articles below) goes like this:

  1. Land belongs to school. (But one report says the land is government reserve land).
  2. 10 years ago, temple asks the land to be temporarily used by temple and promise to return it when school needs it. School builds storage room and toilet. Some say the proposed new multi-purpose hall is proposed to be located on this land as well.
  3. School gets RM500k grant from Education Ministry to built pre-school. School says it wants the land given to temple earlier and writes to temple. Says no reply from temple. More discussions, but not fruitful. Grant will be revoked if no location is identified by year end, whereas temple wants 1 year grace period to relocate toilet and storage room.
  4. School contacts MBSJ. MBSJ issues notice to evacuate on Oct 26.
  5. After discussion, demolition postponed to after Deepavali.
  6. When the demolition team came yesterday, the guy climbed on the roof and threated to set himself on fire. One RELA member says a gust of wind caused the lighter flame to change direction and ignite the kerosene-soaked clothers. The brother claims got people instigate him. [Maybe Lord Perumal is upset and showing his power? You can’t play the fool with God.]
  7. The victim taken to hospital and buildings demolished. A meeting was held and the temple given another 7 days to relocate the storage room material. Problem considered solved by MBSJ councillor.

Its indeed a sad day for the Indian community when two of the important icons for us – the tamil school and the temple – get embroiled in such shameful incident. How can things end up like this? Lord Perumal is sure to be unhappy with this kind of attitude from His subjects.

For me, the pre-school  is more important. One friend suggested that both can co-exist, but I think this will cause problems. I can’t foresee both sides able to be tolerant, patient and well-planned in order to co-share a building.

HRP organised candle light vigil at Anwar Ibrahim’s house, attended by MIC folks as well, in protest of the incident. They also planned to submit a memorandum but its seems Anwar is conveniently missing at that time. While its OK to submit memo and do candle light vigils, I hope HRP can take other action as well, like getting the two groups (school and temple) to TALK and COME to a solution. Then, gather everyone and submit a proposal to state/federal government. That would have been a feather in HRP cap, but now, the candle light vigil and memo submission became “just another activity”. However, HRP did point out that the government reserve land next to temple can be allocated to the temple to solve the problem.

I wonder where’s the area MP and ADUN. Busy getting thrown out of parliament, visiting open houses, tired from by-elections, or simply not bothered?

News from Malaysiakini:

A temple devotee in Pusat Bandar Puchong was rushed to the hospital this morning after dousing himself with petrol and lighting up over fears that part of his temple would be demolished by the local authorities.

M Chakragunasegaran, 52, is now in critical condition at the Serdang Hospital after police and members of the temple committee doused the flames, by which time he had lost consciousness.

Temple committee secretary K Dharmalingam, 49, said he was in the midst of early morning prayers at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple – situated in a Tamil school compound – when a commotion broke out and he heard Chakragunasegaran shouting, “Don’t demolish the temple!”

NONEEnforcement officers from the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ), police officers and men and members of the volunteer defence corp Rela had arrived to demolish a room that had served to store temple equipment, to make way for a pre-school.

After Chakragunasegaran was taken to hospital, Dharmalingam said, the local council personnel went about demolishing the storage room.

He said a notice had been issued on Oct 26, directing the committee members to vacate the storage room for the pre-school.

However, he is disappointed that the authorities did not give them sufficient time to vacate the area.

“It’s been 10 years since this temple was built. The land on which it stands is reserve land,” he told Malaysiakini when contacted.

NONEAnother temple committee member, T Pukalenthy, 42, said the school had allowed the construction of the additional building 10 years ago.

“The demolition was not appropriate. They should have told the temple management earlier,” he said.

MPSJ councillor KN Michael Tamilarason said a meeting was held late this morning, involving representatives of political parties, enforcement agencies, the school and the temple committee.

According to him, it was agreed that the demolition of the storage room would be put on hold for a week.

“The school authorities have agreed to give the temple committee seven days to move the equipment in the storage room. The problem has been solved,” Tamilarason told Malaysiakini.

Enforcement personnel have put up a fence around the area.

According to Bernama, Serdang police chief Abdul Razak Elias said Chakragunasegaran suffered burns to the body and face.

“The incident occured at 9.30am when 200 MPSJ workers, police and Rela members began the operation.

“A man shouted don’t demolish, set himself ablaze and then fainted. He was saved by members of the public,” he said.

The police had lodged a report on the incident at Puchong police station at noon today, Abdul Razak added.

From the Star:

A MAN set himself on fire in protest against the demolition of an illegal structure at a temple by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) at the Puchong Industrial Park yesterday.

The person, identified as Chakara Guna, was sent to the Serdang Hospital for treatment.

No more: The illegal temple structures, comprising a toilet and a store room, being demolished.

A Rela member S. Magen said the man repeatedly doused himself with kerosene and threatened to set himself on fire on different occasions around the area.

“Around 9.45am, he pulled the same stunt while holding a cigarette lighter. Suddenly, the wind blew towards him and his kerosene-soaked body accidentally caught fire,” he said.

A meeting was held later in the morning after the incident. It was attended by MIC Youth chief T. Mohan, representatives from MPSJ town planning department and MPSJ councillor Michael Tamilarason.

According to SJK (T) Castlefield, Puchong board of directors chairman Nagamuthu, the issue began four years ago when the land surveyors came and certified that the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple’s store room and toilet were built on school land.

“We wanted to apply for a land title in 2007 and a licence survey was conducted.

“We had a meeting with representatives from the education department, Land Office, Parent-Teacher Association and the temple.

“The temple representatives agreed to demolish the structures when the school needed to utilise the land,” he said.

About six months ago, the school received a RM500,000 grant from the Education Ministry to build two kindergartens.

We wrote to the temple committee members asking them to move out but our request fell on deaf ears.

“Last month, we were informed by the ministry that the grants will be withdrawn if we did not identify the land for the kindergartens,” he said.

He added that they sought advice from the police and MPSJ to solve the issue as “the temple representatives were adamant”.

“The council put up a notice on Oct 26 that the structures be taken down in a week’s time.

“The demolition of the structures was supposed to be done last week but it was only carried out yesterday after requests from several political leaders to postpone it to after Deepavali,” he said.

At the meeting, the temple representatives asked to be given a year to relocate the temple’s toilet and store room but the school representatives declined.

Mohan and Michael were on hand to calm both parties when the discussion turned into a heated argument.

According to Mohan, it was decided the government reserve land next to the temple will be used temporarily until the temple completes the construction of the store room and toilet within the temple grounds.

Nagamuthu said the cost of the demolition and the temporary building will be borne by the school board.

The temple committee adviser could not be contacted for comments at press time.

More info from Malaysiakini, this time coverage on the brother of the devotee claiming the brother was instigated:

The younger brother of the temple devotee who burned himself yesterday over the demolition of part of his temple’s storage room alleged today that several persons were on the roof with M Chakragunasegaran and issued ‘challenges’ against the latter.

NONEM Alejandran claimed that his brother was only feigning the attempt at self-immolation, and suggested further that he was goaded into carrying out the act by the said individuals

“Who would want to burn himself? My brother was only bluffing,” Alegandran told Malaysiakini when contacted.

I was told that there were individuals who had gone up to the roof to order my brother to come down, and they issued threats against him.

“Because of his fear (of them), my brother got burned,” he added.

NONESeparate police reports were lodged by family members of Chakragunasegaran as well as by the committee members of the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple in Pusat Bandar Puchong, Selangor, where the incident happened yesterday.

In the drama that unfolded, Chakragunasegaran had climbed to the roof of the temple and pleaded for enforcement officers from the local council, police and members of volunteer defence corp Rela not to demolish a room that had served to store temple materials.

This followed the issuance of a notice directing the committee of the temple – which is situated within the compound of government school – to vacate the ten-year-old storage room to make way for a pre-school.

After Chakragunasegaran had doused himself with petrol and set himself on fire, he fell off the roof and became unconscious, and was said to have been in critical condition. 

Chakragunasegaran has since stabilised and was transferred from the Selayang Hospital to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. 

The demolition exercise has been suspended for a week after negotiations between the enforcement authorities and representatives of political parties and the temple committee.

the PMR History paper question on vernacular school

October 13th, 2010
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The question in question (!) is QUESTION 49 as below:

Senarai berikut berkaitan dengan sistem pendidikan di negara kita sebelum merdeka.

  • Sekolah vernakular melayu
  • sekolah vernakular cina
  • sekolah vernakular tamil

Apakah kesan perlaksanaan sistem pendidikan tersebut?

A Petempatan baru bertambah

B Perpaduan rakyat sukar dicapai

C Penghijrahan penduduk ke bandar

D Perbelanjaan pengurusan meningkat

What is your opinion on the question and answers above? The answer is B. My opinion is that the question talked about the 3 types of schools (Malay, Chinese, and Tamil) and said that the vernacular schools (note: Malay school is vernacular as well) were in place before independence. The impact of having such separate school systems is that unity is difficult to achieve. Note that the question talked about the situation before independence where the syllabus, teachers, and pretty much everything was not standardised. The teaching material focused on the “motherland” at that time (Jawi/Arab/Malay, India and China). There was no common syllabus and nothing about “unity”. Secondly, the correct answer said that unity is hard to achieve (sukar dicapai). It didn’t say not achievable (tidak boleh dicapai).  For me, nothing wrong in the question, but just that in the current “hot” and “sensitive” times, it could have been avoided.

What happens now is the complaints by parents and other parties:

PARENTS of PMR students are unhappy with a question in the History test, which they claim asked the students about the effect the implementation of vernacular schools before independence had on the country’s educational policy, reported Makkal Osai.

The daily reported the parents as complaining that the question had also said vernacular schools were a stumbling block to the country’s unity. They alleged that such questions would affect the mentality and morale of younger children studying in Tamil and Chinese schools.

The parents also said that for the past 53 years, the vernacular schools had been fully supportive of the changes introduced by the Education Ministry.

They also called on examiners to be careful in selecting questions in the future so as not to create unease and tension among the major communities.

As one MCA leader said, don’t make vernacular school as scapegoats because post-independence, the syllabus, teachers training, the education philosophy and policies are all standardised. Both BM and English are taught in Tamil and Chinese schools, and any student from any race and religion can study in any vernacular school. There’s no barrier and no segregation.

I don’t agree with HRP this time on this issue. There’s many other issues to pick on, don’t waste time on this non-issue because it dilutes the other arguments. Refer to their statement below:

The PMR history question which suggests that Tamil schools are the reason for national disunity being achieved is an insult to the PMR students intelligence. [it did not say Tamil schools only. Also include Malay and Chinese schools].

It is either Tamil schools or no schools for most of the 70% of the Malaysian Indians who are in the poor or hardcore poor category. They have a Tamil school at walking distance. How can they afford to pay the RM100 to RM250 bus fare when they earn a mere RM600 to RM800 per month? [indeed, most would sent to the nearest school]

These 70% Indian poor is as a result of 53 long years of UMNO racism, discrimination and exclusion of the Indians from the national mainstream development of Malaysia.

The UMNO led Malay-sian government has to get to the point by abiding by Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees equality for all Malaysians.

To start off with 370 or 70% of the 523 Tamil schools nationwide (NST 11/6/08 at page 24) have been denied full government financial assistance resulting, for example, the Ladang Jeram Estate Tamil School, Kuantan Tamil school being wholly in shipping containers, Lukut Tamil school Port Dickson housed upstairs a shophouse, Assad Tamil School Penang in a basement and the Tepi Sungai Tamil School, Klang which is operating from a JKR storeroom – should all be provided with state land and made fully assisted. There is no where else in the world where a primary school exists in these conditions. Only in bi-racial One Malay-sia can this extent of racism prevail. [Two of the schools are still in same condition, while th new building for SJKT Tepi Sungai is up and running. Refer]

The allocation per Tamil school student is RM10.55 but for a Malay school is it three times higher at RM33.00 per student (Sempuruthi Magazine August 2008 pg 47) [this is part of education policy I believe].

To the direct contrary 7,500 Malay schools will be marked 3 star, 2,000 marked 4 star and 500 marked 5 star by 2010. (NST 16/9/08 page 9). But the historical Mount Austin Estate Tamil School completely disappeared from the face of One Malay-sia. The first of it’s kind on planet earth! (MN 13/10/10 at page 4).

Teachers training opportunities are also denied to 1,522 temporary teachers in Tamil schools nationwide. (TN 5/1/09 front page) Only 100 out of 1067 temporary Tamil school teachers get to do the Kursus Dalam Cuti holiday Teachers training course. (TN 30/9/08 page 2).

But 15,000 Diploma qualified and trained (Malay muslim) primary school teachers are given the opportunity to do the primary school graduate teachers programme to ensure that at least 50% of the 140,000 (Malay muslim) primary school teachers have a degree in education awarded by 2010 in the five years Degree programme consisting of four years school holiday course and the fifth year on full time basis at all the Teacher Training Universities. (NST 23/7/2008 at page 18). Such facilities are denied to tamil school teachers.

These inequalities and UMNO racism are the real reasons for racial disunity in Malaysia even after 53 years of independence and not the vernacular schools.

Thus racist PMR exam questions to this effect holds no water and should not be allowed in future. The Director for PMR exams must therefore be forthwith sacked for this line of PMR exam questions especially in the light of UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bi-racial One Malay-sia policy.


HRP brings identification document case to NRD

September 26th, 2010
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Well done! Its a good move by HRP. I agree its not a easy thing to do as lot of time and patience is required (imagine discussing for eight hours! And that too just to complete application and submit it). Just imagine the illiterate and underserved members of public going through this process. Most likely give up due to the various rules and regulations, and restrictions. Not everyone can do, even though many can talk about it. Hopefully this batch of 10 people get some good news in two months time (but I have my doubts).

With MIC running their SITF programs in few places, hopefully can see some cases coming to a good closure.

The Human Rights Party (HRP) claims it has achieved its aim of upholding the constitutional right for freedom of religion, in bringing relief to 10 Indian Malaysians who were caught in conversion turmoil for years.

The 10 victims of allegedly forced conversions are from the three families of Rajina a/p Krishnan, Rani a/p Kandasamy and Banggarma a/p Subramaniam (left).

On Tuesday, HRP central committee member S Thiagarajan took them to the National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters in Putrajaya to iron out the long outstanding issue with seven NRD officers.
According to Thiagarajan, it took over eight hours of persuasion and reasoning with the NRD officers headed by NRD’s births, deaths and adoptions deputy director I Azliza Shaharudin to complete this application process for the change of name.

Initially, HRP encountered resistance from Azliza who after perusal of the documents, rejected the applications on the grounds that these three cases should be brought to the Syariah Court for the change of name and religion to Hindu.
After obtaining the Syariah Court order, only then should they apply for changes in their identity cards and birth certificates at the NRD, she had stated.

Constitutional aspects discussed
But HRP instead briefed Azliza and her officers on the constitutional and legal aspects as well as the United Nations (UN) International Covenant provisions that stated:
1) By virtue of Section 6 of the Registration of Births and Deaths (Special Provisions) Act 1975 “A registrar (of births) shall record such particulars as may be prescribed in a report book in the prescribed form concerning any birth or death given to him by any person qualified to do so.
2) Article 11 of the federal constitution (freedom of religion) and 11(1) that says “every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and to propagate it”.
3) The federal constitution is the highest law of the country and is above all other laws, with no disrespect including Islamic laws which are only subsidiary to the federal constitution.
4) Article 14 of the federal constitution read with Part II of the Second Schedule provides for citizenship by “operation of law” and “for every person born within the federation of whose parents one at least is at the time of birth either a citizen or permanently resident in the federation.
5) Article 7 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (that Malaysia ratified in 1995) provides, “The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents”.
6) It also states parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.
After HRP’s briefing on the six rights, Azliza called the respective NRD officers to look into the various conversion cases.
Rajina’s two-year-old son Tinesh has no birth certificate, since the NRD office in Johor had at the birth of her son refused to include the name of his natural father Mahendran a/l Habimanan and his religion as Hindu in his birth certificate.
Then for Banggarma’s two children, Hisyanthini and Kanagaraj, application forms were sought to change their religious status to Hindu and include their father’s name Sockalingam a/l Suppiah into their birth certificates, which column had been filled up with the words “Maklumat Tidak Diperolehi” (details not available).
Thiagarajan had also questioned Azliza as to how this could happen when the mother had confirmed that Sockalingam is the natural father, pointing out that this is in contravention of Section 5(1)(a) and (b) of the Registration of Births and Deaths Act 1975.
Rani had been told that the amendments she sought in the birth certificates of her children could not be carried out as the birth certificate is only issued once in their life time and it is to remain the history of their birth.
The application to change the name and the status from Islam to Hindu was rejected by virtue of Section 15(1) of the Registration Births and Deaths Act 1975.

‘NRD must be independent’
However HRP informed the families that they could use Section 27(3) of the same Act to make corrections to the name and their religious status.
Rani and others with officer - HRP, converts meeting with NRDThey proceeded to submit six applications for changes to the records.
This included the case of Rani’s (far left in photo) elder daughter Vijaya Letchumy who has a Hindu name but whose religious status in the NRD computer system is Islam, a discrepancy that prevented her from registering her marriage to her Hindu husband Tamilarasan a/l M Rajendran.
According to Thiagarajan, the NRD officers had told them that they would revert to the applicants regarding these six changes within two months’ time.
HRP will be taking the second batch of ten stateless Malaysian Indians to see the NRD next week.
Earlier on Aug 13, a HRP team led by pro-tem secretary-general P Uthayakumar (right) had started the groundwork for this venture with a three-hour meeting with births, deaths and adoptions director Mohd Azmin Hassan and 12 of his senior officers at their Putrajaya office.
At this meeting the HRP team had emphasised that NRD should act on an independent, non-racial and non-religious basis, in a move to eliminate statelessness and uphold the constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Citizenship woes for old folks and the stateless

September 6th, 2010
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Read this first (full article is here):

… Although he was born in Kuala Lumpur and has lived here all his life, Chang still holds a red identity card, which carries a permanent resident status. He began applying for citizenship in 1974 but so far he has not been successful.

He says he could not register as a citizen in 1957 because he did not have a birth certificate.

“I was born during the Japanese Occupation, so my parents were too scared to register my birth. Luckily, I was given a red IC, but after more than 15 years, I felt that it was not enough, so I applied for citizenship in 1974.”

As MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek highlighted recently, the number of persons waiting for their citizenship applications to be approved is huge. It was reported in this paper yesterday that 30,000 individuals are waiting for the outcome of their application, which were made between 2007 and 2009.

Among them are some 25,751 Chinese red IC holders. Between January and August this year, 7,674 fresh applications were submitted.

To help resolve the problem, the party’s central committee member and Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong was given the task of identifying the reasons for the delay.

One main problem that has long been highlighted is lack of proper documents.

A reason identified for this is adoption: it was a common practice among Chinese parents who adopted (Malaysian-born) children to hide the child’s real identity, making it difficult for them to get their personal documents like MyKad later in life.

But, says Chiew Lian Keng who is coordinating the MCA’s citizenship task force, “Many of those waiting for their citizenship approval are old people who lived through the Japanese Occupation or the Emergency (1948-1960), so they have no papers; or their documents were lost or destroyed.”

Because of their experience during those turbulent times, he explains, many like Chang feel inferior and insecure without their citizenship.

During the Emergency and Japanese Occupation, being caught without your papers or with the “wrong” documents could mean prison and even execution, and many now needlessly worry about their safety when going out in public places.

Tracing the historical events, Chiew says many are in a fix today due to the commotion of those times and lack of access to information.

When Malaya achieved independence in 1957, everyone who was born here was given a year to take the citizenship oath.

But many who are seeking help from the task force today say they didn’t know that they had to do so at that time or had problems that made them miss the deadline.

It was the same situation when Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965, he points out: “A year was given for people to decide if they wanted to stay in Malaysia or become Singaporeans. Still, many are now in limbo due to various reasons.”

Undeniably, Chiew concedes, there was a small group who wanted to go back to China and dragged their feet over their citizenship. By the time they resolved their dilemma, they had missed the deadline. “But this number is very small,” he stresses.

There are now five categories of citizenship application: wives of citizens; children of Malaysians aged below 21 years; application made under special circumstances for children aged below 21 years; those born before Merdeka; and applicants who are above 21 and have lived here as a permanent resident for more than 12 years.

The National Registration Department processed 32,927 applications for citizenship between 1997 and 2006.

Between 2007 and 2009, 29,677 applications were received, out of which 14,179 were approved while the remaining 15,498 applications are expected to be finalised by end of the year.

For many like Chang, who has been waiting for more than 35 years, the process is simply too slow and long.

It is not only red tape, says Chiew. One reason is that their applications keep getting rejected.

“Their applications have to go through various stages and many have come to expect rejection first. Usually, no reason is given for the rejection. Once rejected, they have to wait for two years to apply again.”

Chang has lost count of how many times he has submitted an application for citizenship.

“I took my Bahasa Malaysia test in 1974 and I passed but my first application was not approved. I applied again, and still it came back negative. I’ve been diligently re-applying.

“When I read the papers, I see that many people have received citizenship. I see many women crying and hugging the minister after getting their citizenship. So, how do you think I feel? At least, just tell me my status,” he says, showing his Bahasa Malaysia certificate.

NRD director-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim feels that many applicants have the misconception that getting a Malaysian citizenship is their right.

It is actually a reward and the highest award from the Government of Malaysia to the applicant,” he says, adding that even those born in Malaysia do not automatically have the claim to be Malaysian citizens under the operation of law.

“Every birth in Malaysia must be registered in the NRD and the citizenship status is based on their parents’ nationality at birth.”

Alwi is sympathetic towards those who were unsuccessful in their applications but laments the public’s lack of understanding of the process.

“Most people do not understand that the NRD does not have the authority to approve their citizenship applications. They need to know and understand that there are processes that the applications need to go through before the decision can be made by the Home Minister.”

The process, he explains, is long as the Government has to be thoroughly sure that the applicant is highly deserving of Malaysian citizenship. They also need to prove that they can contribute to the country as well as show their loyalty and not bring any harm or danger to it.

One aspect that many are not aware of is that existing laws and mechanisms have been made easier for applicants aged 50 and above. They no longer need to sit for a written Bahasa Malaysia test and only have to attend an interview in which their understanding of the national language and the Federal Constitution is tested.

But, says Chiew, most of the time the questions asked in the interview are difficult.

Sometimes you get questions like ‘What is the full name of the second Sultan of Terengganu?’ I don’t think even you or I can answer that, what more an old person like Chang.”

Alwi points out that despite the challenges, the NRD and the ministry have cleared all the application backlogs.

“Currently, we are processing applications from 2007 to 2010. All applications prior to 2007 have been processed and the results are out.

“The results for 2007, 2008 and 2009 applications will be issued by end of this year while those for 2010 applications will be issued by 2012.”

While most understand the load faced by the NRD, the delay has taken a toll on this batch of pre-Merdeka generation and their families, says Chiew.

Many are so disheartened that they have simply refused to appeal when their applications are rejected. The problems they face, meanwhile, have discouraged those who have yet to apply for citizenship.

“These are old people. Many are over 60 and it is tough for them to go back and forth to the NRD. After so many years, all they want is to belong to the place they call home.”

Lorry driver Yong, 71, had almost given up hope of dying a Malaysian when he received his citizenship recently.

“The delay was affecting my family. Every time the topic came up in my house, tempers blew up. It was very stressful,” he recalls.

There are many who accuse these applicants of being too demanding, says Chang.

“It is not that we feel entitled to Malaysian citizenship. But I was born here, I grew up and work here, and my family is here. That is why I want to be a Malaysian citizen.”

For many, says Chiew, it is also a matter of survival.

As PR, they are not eligible for free medical services or the subsidies provided for senior citizens at Government hospitals. They are also not eligible for other incentives provided to retirees.

Sarita A, whose mother applied more than five times before she got her citizenship, says everything is more expensive for a red IC holder. These include hospital bills, passport and other travel costs and even entry to some places.

“My mother was very heartbroken and nearly gave up. She always said she could not go back to India because she does not know India now and she has nobody there. We are her only family,” she says.

Her mother does not only feel secure now but also relieved that she does not have to burden her children.

Although Sarita is grateful to the Government, she feels the process could have been faster.

“I felt they could have done better, especially since many are waiting anxiously to become citizens of this country.”

Hence, many were overjoyed when Dr Chua recently proposed that red IC holders aged 60 years and above with children who are citizens be granted citizenship automatically.

That will definitely help clear the NRD backlog, says Chiew.

For those like Chang, it will certainly make a difference.

I can get cheaper and better medical service,” he says with a smile.

“And Merdeka Day will be happy and meaningful again.”

I can see that economic issues play a part in attempts to get citizenship, especially the elderly folks.
Next, let’s read about HRP’s attempt to help register stateless folks:

Fifteen year old Citra Dorai was born in a prison in Alor Setar and her knowledge about the circumstances surrounding her birth is rather vague.

She has been illiterate all her life as she does not have a birth certificate or an identity card which makes it impossible for her to register for any school.

Her mother died recently and her father has left her and two other siblings in the care of an aunt, and Citra (left) is totally uncertain of her future.

“I want to be like everyone else, to go to school, and to have something to do in the future,” she said, teary-eyed.

Citra, is among 40-odd stateless persons who turned up at the Human Rights Party’s office in Perai today, to fill in their national registration forms.

More than 20 children, with ages ranging from two to 15 years, were accompanied by their equally stateless parents, to try and reverse their situation by registering their plight.

The effort is part of the HRP’s national campaign to assist stateless persons, as most of them come from the Indian community.

Citra is also part of the 150,000 Malaysians who were born and bred in the country but who continues to suffer as stateless persons for various reasons ranging from not having parents’ with citizenship to refusal to follow suit when a spouse or parent converts to Islam.

Disappointing meet

On Aug 13, HRP leaders met with NRD officers in Putrajaya, but came home feeling disappointed that the officers gave the impression that the problem was not as serious as they had made it out to be, said the party’s national advisor N. Ganesan.

“But we have proven our point, in just a month, without even a campaign, only word by mouth, we have managed to gather some 40 stateless people in this office,” he said.

“We want the NRD to take ownership of this problem and try to resolve this issue; it cannot deny that this is a big problem,” Ganesan (right) added.

Ganesan, a lawyer by profession, reiterated that what has been constitutionally guaranteed has been systematically and procedurally denied to the poor and vulnerable.

“This has contributed further to their marginalisation and continuing dispossession from mainstream Malaysia,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NRD has responded to the allegations by stating that the mobile registration program known as MyDaftar has been travelling to several Tamil schools and Indian estates to register undocumented children this year.

Its public relations officer Janisiah Mohd Noor stated in an email reply, that for cases of mixed marriage sans conversion, the matter should be referred to the appropriate religious department for more clarification.

She also stressed that the parents must be in legal wedlock to be registered as the child’s parent.

Janisiah claimed that the main reason for this statelessness plaguing the poor Malaysian Indians is due to their ignorance of law, unregistered marriages, and domestic problems.

Ganesan said the forms provided by the NRD was complicated that even an educated, un-marginalised middle class person would find a daunting task to fill in all their particulars.

“Please be reminded that these people with the stateless problems are from the working class; everyday they go to the NRD and are rejected due to incomplete forms, they lose a day’s wage,” he said.

“They have to return again and again before they get their forms rights and for many of these working class people, they simply cannot afford the time, so they let things continue to hang,” he added.

So, we can see HRP’s argument that process is complicated due the the forms. Coupled with long waiting time, well, you get unsolved problems. NRD doesn’t get involved in conversion issues so that another hurdle the folks have to deal separately. While in the earlier article, the focus is on elderly folks, the one above shows the importance of identity document in order to pursue education beyond primary school.

Also note that HRP says citizenship is guaranteed under constitution while NRD says its a reward, depending on the nationality of the parents.