KUALA LUMPUR: Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan Kasthuri Patto, who has been fighting for a better standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with citizenship applications, today welcomed the commitment by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to review the existing SOP.
Muhyiddin had yesterday told reporters at the lobby of the Parliament that the review was to expedite the process of handling citizenship applications so that those concerned would not have to wait too long.
In a statement today, Kasthuri urged him to also carry out an internal audit on the way citizenship applications were handled and to introduce Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on clearing the backlog of citizenship applications at the National Registration Department (NRD) and the Immigration Department.
“A good set of new SOPs will be meaningless if it is not cemented by strict KPI set by the home ministry to enable officers and departments to perform better in processing these applications. The KPI must then be audited to examine where the real bottleneck exists and to take speedy measures to overcome them.”
Last week she had called for a SOP to be used by all officers in all states as lawyers handling citizenship applications for children had told her that when the same set of applications were submitted to two NRD offices in different states, the reactions and responses were “vastly different”. She said she had been told that one application appeared to be moving successfully while the other was stagnant.
“This is a clear situation of why an SOP, a KPI and an audit are needed to be adhered to.”
Saying the Federal Constitution provided for the granting of citizenship, she noted that red tape, “bureaucratic dramas, prolonged silences from departments, inexplicable rejections without any advice given”, a lack of inter-departmental communication and an inefficient and ineffective work culture had contributed to “crippled attempts for a Malaysian citizenship”.
“Last week, I had proposed in the Dewan Rakyat for the home ministry to launch an audit into investigating the root cause of the huge backlog in citizenship applications, particularly for children who were born in Malaysia and born overseas, who have been waiting for years and years, children in orphanages, children born to foreign spouses (in the country and overseas), for foreign spouses in general and also for senior applicants, who were born in Malaya and those who came to Malaya decades ago, whose children are now citizens but who are still stuck in limbo.
“Gone are the BN (Barisan Nasional) ‘glory days’ where ‘minister-knows-best’, which was a diabolical SOP used by Barisan Nasional, and which had led to hundreds of thousands of applicants wandering aimlessly in the dark.”
She said the Pakatan Harapan government had inherited “systemic, long standing, mammoth issues that went unresolved by a 60 year old Barisan Nasional regime, including the granting of citizenship”.