Sarawak to revive special committee on citizenship for stateless kids

Sarawak Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah says with the committee back then, the process of citizenship applications in the state was faster.

KUCHING: The Sarawak government intends to revive the state’s Special Committee on Citizenship (SCC) for stateless children, said Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Fatimah Abdullah.

It was reported that the SCC was abolished after Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the federal government to allow Sarawak PH elected representatives to have direct access to the office of the home minister to monitor and follow-up on citizenship application cases in the state.

At a press conference here today, Fatimah said her ministry would be making a courtesy call on the home minister in the near future to request for the revival of the SCC.

“The SCC, under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution for those aged below 21, was formed in 2016 at the discretion of the home minister back then.

“We hope the SCC will be revived because through this committee, we’ll be able to assist in the ‘vetting process’ for all citizenship applications before submitting them to the ministry for further action.

“This will ease the home ministry’s workload since the committee will make sure the (citizenship) application forms are complete and have been properly vetted before they are submitted to the home ministry.

“With the committee back then, the process of citizenship applications in the state was faster. The most it took was about two years,” she said, adding that the ministry also wanted all genuine cases in regard to stateless children in Sarawak to be resolved as soon as possible.

She said stateless children end up not having the opportunity to go to school, and do not receive welfare or medical benefits.

Although the ministry did not have the exact number of stateless children in Sarawak, Fatimah said the committee had received 717 citizenship applications since 2016 until the committee was abolished in July last year.

She said some children became stateless as the parents were not legally married or when one of the parents was a foreigner.

Fake or not? Check our quick fake news buster here.