Urgent solution needed for stateless children, foreign spouses’ woes

Stateless children are missing out on many opportunities due to their status. (Reuters pic)

It only needs one instruction from Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to solve the problems faced by stateless children and foreign spouses.

Every moment wasted means a lot to these people.

Children born to Malaysian parents have had to face many challenges as non-citizens and while we encourage foreigners to pick Malaysia as a second home, foreign spouses who are legally married to Malaysians are not granted citizenship.

While we are flooding the capital with foreigners who apparently have citizenship papers, the children born in this country are denied their citizenship.

I am helping in a case where the father has to pay school fees despite his daughter being placed in a public school. This same story can be told again and again in the lives of thousands of children, not only the Indians but from other communities too.

Those married to Malaysians and stateless young people cannot legally find employment because they do not enjoy the same privileges as Malaysian citizens.

Sometimes, it takes more than 10 years before the foreign spouses are granted Malaysian citizenship.

Meanwhile, we have stateless young people who are top scorers but cannot pursue their education in a local university. What a shame!

I agree with Lawyers for Liberty executive director Latheefa Koya’s statement that the issue of stateless children should not be the responsibility of political parties, agencies or NGOs such as the Unit for the Socio-Economic Development of the Indian Community (Sedic).

It is the sole responsibility of the home ministry and the National Registration Department (NRD). All it takes is a directive from the minister.

The new Pakatan government must rule with sensibility and uphold righteousness instead of allowing Little Napoleons to run the show.

I have personally written to Muhyiddin and I find his response to be very positive. However, there is a need to be firm with the Little Napoleons who will do whatever they can to derail the people’s call for change.

Most of us voted for Pakatan Harapan not because of Anwar Ibrahim or even Dr Mahathir Mohamad but because after 61 years of Barisan Nasional’s nonsense, we were looking for change.

We are hoping for a better future for the stateless children and foreign spouses, irrespective of race, religion or social standing.

Stephen Ng is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.