Lee Lam Thye Praises Prime Minister’s Promise to look into the case of Rohana Abdullah

KOTA KINABALU: It is a magnanimous gesture by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to promise to look into the case of Rohana Abdullah who has been denied Malaysian citizenship.


It is a great humanitarian effort by a head of Government to spend time away from his other onerous tasks to help this young Muslim woman who was abandoned by her mother and raised by a Chinese lady.

Because of her predicament, she was even forced to drop out of school.

But what of the thousands of others similar to her situation who have been denied citizenship although they were born and bred in this country and who have been appealing to the authorities for the past few decades?

This has given rise to the question of fairness. Should we just pay attention to just high profile cases such as the case of Rohana Abdullah while leaving the rest to fend for themselves and continue waiting for the outcome of their applications.

We cannot have a “Malaysian family” where the members are treated differently.

There must be equal treatment of, and concern for all those born in Malaysia. Some of them were children when they first sought help, and now they are adults but are still not being treated as Malaysians.

We had previously raised this matter when the Government, in similar circumstances, had granted citizenship status in two cases involving Suriani Kempe and six others, and Mahisha Sulaiha Abdul Majeed.

This selective treatment gives rise to a host of questions.

Following my previous appeal, a reader who was a former Registrar of Citizens at the National Registration Department from 1969 to 1975, had written to the media to say he was aware of the problems faced by those waiting for years for the outcome of their applications.

He said that, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution, all those who were born in the country on or after Merdeka Day (31 August 1957) were citizens by operation of law by virtue of Article 14 (1) (a).

Those born before Merdeka Day and in possession of birth certificates could apply to be registered as a citizen under Article 16 upon fulfilling the conditions set out therein.

He said that the group that I had referred to earlier were those who were actually born in the country but did not have their birth certificates.. Their parents either had failed to register their children’s birth, due to various factors or have since lost the birth certificates.

Attempts to get an extract of their birth certificates were unsuccessful, simply because they cannot remember the actual date of birth.

As such the only option they had was to apply for the grant of a certificate of naturalization under Article 19(1) . The granting of citizenship under this article is at the discretion of the Federal government or the Minister of Home Affairs.

Could the authorities concerned please come up with cogent reasons for this seeming discrimination? How different are the cases where the Government has been accommodating and where it has been unaccommodating?

Such matters concerning fairness to all applications for citizenship must be addressed seriously by the government in line with the concept of Keluarga Malaysia or Malaysian Family.

I wish to propose to the Government to set up a Special Task Force to look into the backlog of citizenship applications and make specific recommendation to the Minister of Home Affairs for the granting of citizenship to all deserving applicants.

Justice must be seen to be done to those who have been waiting for years for citizenship and awaiting approval from the Home Affairs Minister.


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