John Dismas, 65, is born and bred in Sabah of native-Australian parentage but till today he is not a Malaysian.
KUALA PENYU: “Newly-arrived illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia can easily get Malaysian citizenship, but why can’t I get it after 65 years?” asks John Dismas, a man who has lived in Sabah all his life.
The 65-year-old who was born in Kuala Penyu a year after Second World War, ended is perplexed by his situation. His mother was a Dusun Tatana and he speaks the dialect fluently, while his father was an Australian soldier who abandoned the family soon after the war.
He says he has applied for Malaysian citizenship several times and even went to Putrajaya to take up his case with the relevant authority.
Dismas has never been outside Sabah since birth in 1946 at Kampung Bundu here till recently when he went to the national capital to get some answers to his quandary.
His case is indeed perplexing given that the law states that all those born in the colony of North Borneo prior to it gaining independence and helping form Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963, are automatically deemed Sabahans and Malaysians.
According to Dismas, his mother died and was buried here when he was only three and his father who was serving in the Allied Army’s Ninth Division in Labuan during the Second World War, left them for Australia after the war and has never been heard of since.
Dismas, who is married to a local and had six children (one died recently), is saddened and hurt by his treatment at the hands of the federal government for so long.
“I still hold a red MyKad, but look at the illegal immigrants: they come today and by next week some of them already have a blue MyKad, are being registered as voters and enjoy all the benefits as citizens and even as Bumiputera. This is outrageous.
“Even our Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was shocked and fearful that recently suddenly 40,000 children were given Malaysian birth certificates and MyKads in Semporna alone,” he said, referring to Anifah’s comment’s that was carried prominently in the newspapers.
Dismas’ case was highlighted by a local State Reform Party (STAR) leader, Alexander Sintin, in his welcoming speech at the launching of STAR’s Beaufort division, which consisted of Kuala Penyu and Klias state constituencies here recently.
When met by FMT, Dismas was both embarrassed and frustrated as he pulled out his red MyKad and talked about his predicament.
“I don’t know why I can’t get a blue MyKad when I have been living here all my life. Luckily my children were given blue MyKads,” he said.
“I have gone to Putrajaya. I am old now, but they asked me to produce my parents’ marriage and death certificates. Where on earth can I get these documents?” he asked.