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Trying in vain for citizenship

 | September 16, 2011

Ignorant civil servants in the Immigration and National Registration Departments are a bane to greencard holders.

KUCHING: What 70-year-old labourer Chai King Nin needs most in his twilight days is a Malaysian citizenship.

He’s been in Sarawak since 1953, when he came in from Indonesia together with two friends. He was 12-years-old at the time. For the past 51 years, he has been living and labouring in Sarawak.

He married a local girl and went on to have five children but he has never had a bank account or owned a property. He can’t because he does not have a Malaysian citizenship.

Not that he hasn’t tried to apply for it.

In fact Chai has tried applying for citizenship “countless times’ but the Malaysian authorities have consistently denied him citizenry.

No directive

While his two friends have been luckier, Chai has been pushed around from the Immigration Department to National Registration Department (NRD) and to the Home Affairs Ministry.

Each time he inquired about his application, the response from NRD was that there was ‘no directive’ from the higher-ups.

An aging Chai has now turned to Sarawak DAP treasurer Violet Yong for assistance.

Yong told newsmen here that Chai had approached the NRD for a blue identification card, but was told that they had not received any directive from the higher authorities on how to handle such matters involving persons with green ICs.

When Chai applied for a permanent resident status, his application was rejected by the Immigration Department because he failed to show proof of his entry to the state. He was then advised to appeal to the Home Affairs Ministry. Yong is helping him with the appeal.

Incompetent govt departments

Chai when asked by reporters as to how many times he had applied for citizenship, said: “Banyak kali…tetapi saya sudah lupa berapa kali” (Many times, but I cannot remember how many times.)

In the meantime, Chai is staying on a social visit pass which he needs to renew yearly. To renew the pass, he has to pay RM90 a year.

Said Yong: “This back and forth sequence by the officials of the respective departments indicates the staff’s incompetence in handling the matter.

“They masked their ignorance by pushing the responsibilities to other departments. Chai came into this country without identification papers in 1953.

“Nonetheless he has settled here and adopted Malaysia as his home country. He has built a home and a family here.

“For 51 years he has laboured as an honest and responsible citizen but all of that will be in vain as he is not a citizen,” she said.

According to Yong, Chai was not alone in his dilemma.

Deprived of basic privileges

She  said that there are many green card holders all over Sarawak, pointing out that many of them are honest, hardworking and law abiding people.

“They have in their respective trades and have contributed much to the economy of the country as well as to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF).

‘Yet they are deprived even the basic privileges of a normal citizen. Banking services such as having a saving account are denied to them.

“They are treated as foreigners in hospital and clinics and thus are required to pay hefty medical charges. They cannot also own landed properties.

“On top of that, they are forbidden to travel out of Sarawak. These are just among the many basic conveniences that they are denied of,” she said.

Yong pointed out another odd situation.

She said before the introduction of MyKad in 2000, Chai was recognised as a citizen.

“But after that, the authorities refused to give him MyKad. Now he is in a dilemma,” she said.

Easy MyKads for illegals

She said many green card holders had rendered decades of valuable services to the state and yet were denied citizenship compared to ‘newcomers’.

“I wish to bring up the case of Mismah who has been in this country for only 27 years.

“She turned into a Malaysian citizen within four hours from permanent resident status while Chai has been here for more than 50 years and yet he remains stateless.

“There are many illegal immigrants throughout Malaysia who are given the MyKad just to garner votes,” Yong alleged.


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