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Fast-track Children’s Citizenship Applications

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 10 February 2020

Granting citizenship to the footballer Liridon Krasniqi has shown that where there is a need for talent and a political will Malaysia can bestow citizenship on people even when the usual criteria does not apply.

SWWS while welcoming Krasniqi to the fold calls for the same political will to fast track all the children in Malaysia without such crucial documentation. Their need is greater as without citizenship they cannot pursue education and apply for jobs despite this country having been the only home they have known.  Not only do they lose but also the country loses their collective talents if they are denied such opportunities.

It is well known that the problem is a major one in Sarawak.  Yet back in July last year the State’s Special Committee, established in October 2016 to move forward this issue after years of prolonged waiting, lost its working relationship with the Federal Government who via the Ministry of Home Affairs is the only body who has the power to grant citizenship. A new improved system was promised by December 2019 but it is already February 2020 and none has been announced; no special committee nor SOP on expediting applications for stateless children.

SWWS calls on all parties to put political point-scoring aside and work together to give these undocumented children a secure future. This is not only the moral thing to do for their development but also the legal duty of Malaysia under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. It is crucial Federal and State work together, as was happening earlier, if we are to resolve this complex issue. 

Sarawak needs to have a transparent, effective and efficient system to process these children scattered across such a large, rugged state where access to government services due to distance and cost is part of the problem. This can only be achieved by cooperation across Federal and state agencies. For this to work smoothly Federal and State politicians from both divides need to collaborate for the well-being of the children

The children and their parents need both a local and national system working in harmony so we call on all politicians to re-establish such a framework speedily. Who knows one of the children could one day play for our national football team.