KUALA LUMPUR: Most applicants for citizenship among the elderly fail the Malay language proficiency test, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.
Home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the Malay language proficiency test is one of the requirements in the application for Malaysian citizenship.
“In other countries, their ‘best practices’ require a mastery of the official language or speech of the country concerned, that is, those who apply for citizenship are required to be able to speak the official language of the country that they are in.
“Here, the failing score (in the Malay language proficiency test) is ‘1’ and the passing score is ‘8’. Sometimes those who score only a ‘2’ can be thankful that we pass them.
“Most of the older applicants are usually only fluent in their mother tongue. This is one of the constraints that the home ministry faces,” he said during the oral question-and-answer session at Dewan Rakyat.
He was responding to a supplementary question by Wee Jeck Seng (BN-Tanjung Piai) regarding the citizenship applications of those who are elderly not being approved or taking a long time to be approved.
Earlier, responding to an additional question from Lo Su Fui (GRS-Tawau) regarding the home ministry’s alleged lack of seriousness regarding the issue of citizenship status applications, Saifuddin replied that in the past 10 months, a total of 10,381 citizenship applications had been attended to, with the majority of cases involving child applications.
“Most of the applications involve cases of adopted children and ‘illegal children’. They cannot go to school and have to pay expensive hospital bills (because they are not citizens).
“We tell home ministry officials to resolve this first, (but) instead we have been (falsely) accused of approving tens of thousands of citizenship applications for Chinese nationals. This is mischievous,” he said.
Responding to Lo’s original question regarding a solution to the issue of residents not having complete documents for a citizenship application, Saifuddin said several initiatives were implemented, including the national registration department’s (JPN) field programme, “Program Menyemai Kasih Rakyat” (Mekar) to help people in rural areas obtain complete documents and related citizenship application matters.