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2009 Feb 13 - Melanie: Minister’s statement could be abused

Melanie: Minister’s statement could be abused

KOTA KINABALU (Feb 13, 2009): Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has cautioned the Education Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein on the far-reaching implication of his statement allowing students without birth certificates to enrol at secondary schools provided one of the parents is a Malaysian citizen.

When speaking to New Sabah Times yesterday, SAPP Wanita Chief and Luyang State assemblywoman, Melanie Chia expressed concern that the Minister’s remark might create a serious loophole in the system that could be subject to abuse.

“It will be like opening a floodgate of abuses especially in view of the large number of illegal immigrants in the state,” she said.

She also pointed out that his remarks clearly contradicted the requirement under the Education Act 1996 for children who are non-citizens to first apply for the ‘Education Licence’ before they could be accepted in schools. They are also required to pay an annual school fee of RM120.

She noted that under the law, a child’s nationality was based on the mother’s nationality which meant that if the mother was a foreigner, the child too would automatically be considered as a foreigner.

Hishammuddin was reported to have made the statement during a visit to SK Balung, in Tawau on Wednesday.

He was responding to parents’ complaints that some secondary schools there had refused to admit their children as they did not have birth certificates although one of their parents is Malaysian. These children normally have their citizenship status in their temporary identification documents stated as “undetermined”.

He even said that rejecting the students was not a policy that he approved that he would immediately abolish it if it really existed.

Hishammuddin viewed it as a hindrance to these children in acquiring education which would provide them the chance of a better future.

Meanwhile, on the minister’s remark that the delay on the part of the National Registration Department (NRD) in issuing identity cards (ICs) to these children should not be a reason for them not to be accepted into schools, Melanie countered that the state NRD had been doing its best to resolve the issue of late birth registration among bona fide citizens especially those living in the rural areas.

One of the steps taken was to deploy mobile registration units to the remote parts to facilitate the rural folks in registering births. (NST)


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