KLANG: After many Christmases of hoping, 76-year-old Sandra Lee’s biggest wish has come true – her grandson is finally a Malaysian.
Born to a Malaysian father and an Indonesian mother out of wedlock, Edward Tan was left stateless as he was not entitled to his father’s Malaysian citizenship.
Even being adopted by his biological father and stepmother in 2012 could not get him the citizenship he craved.
Despite this, Lee never gave up hope. She made it her mission to secure her 16-year-old grandson’s citizenship. However, her biggest hurdle was not knowing where to start.
“I had no knowledge at all of how to acquire citizenship for Edward. I even got scammed out of RM6,000 by someone who said he could get citizenship for my grandson,” she told FMT.
Lee had a lawyer friend who helped her apply for citizenship for Tan in 2012. However, upon receiving a letter in 2013 saying that their application was not successful, they felt that they had reached a dead end.
That changed in 2016 when Lee read about Navin Moorthy – who, at 17, received his citizenship after a six-year wait – and consulted his lawyer Annou Xavier, who advised her to re-apply for Tan’s citizenship.
“In 2016, we re-applied. But the reply never came. So Xavier advised us to write letters and to keep calling up the ministry for a response, but still nothing happened,” Lee said.
After seven years of countless calls and letters to the home ministry, she finally received good news.
“On Dec 12, we received his approval letter. We are all so happy because it feels like this burden is finally lifted,” she said.
Tan feels the same way.
“I feel happy that my citizenship has been approved. I can finally walk around freely and I don’t need to be afraid of anything,” he said.
Christmas as a Malaysian for the first time
Now that Tan is officially a Malaysian, Lee hopes the whole family can spend a joyous Christmas without worrying about his citizenship status.
Tan says he is happy he can finally celebrate Christmas as a proud Malaysian.
“I have always been a proud Malaysian. Even before getting my citizenship, I was still proud to call myself a Malaysian. This year, I hope I can celebrate with my family and especially my grandma, because she has helped me a lot along the way.
“To everyone struggling with their citizenship status, I would like to say be strong and don’t give up hope. Just keep on going until you get your citizenship.”