Group questions home ministry’s ‘paltry figure’ of 3,853 stateless Indians

PETALING JAYA: Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today expressed shock over the home ministry’s claim on the number of stateless Indians in the country, saying it was illogical to base the total number of stateless on the number of applications the ministry received.

“It is completely illogical, and contrary to reason, to base the total number of stateless on the number of applications the ministry received,” said LFL adviser N Surendran.

Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman today told the Dewan Negara that there were 3,853 stateless Indians in Malaysia, saying the figure was based on the number of applications received by the ministry.

Surendran urged the ministry to retract the “completely baseless claim”, and take immediate steps to identify qualified persons to be issued blue identity cards.

“Azis simply dismisses the figure of 300,000 stateless Indians which I had first suggested in 2012. That figure was a credible estimate based upon the feedback from NGOs, activists, and also population studies,” he added.

He said there are “thousands upon thousands of stateless Indians” around the country whose applications have not reached the home ministry, as their applications were either rejected or were not complete.

“Many of those who had their applications rejected had applied multiple times, and have given up trying.

“For those thousands that have not put in applications, lack of education, ignorance and an inflexible bureaucracy at the JPN (National Registration Department) offices are among the main causes,” said Surendran.

Surendran said no government census was done to ascertain the actual number of stateless Indians.

“The paltry figure of 3,853 also goes against the kind of numbers of stateless persons that NGOs, civil society and social and political activists have come across all over the country in grappling with the problem of statelessness over the years,” he said.