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2008 Oct 17 - Sabah is different, NRD told

Sabah is different, NRD told

Kota Kinabalu (Oct 17, 2008): The National Registration Department (NRD) should be more considerate on the plight of genuine Malaysians in Sabah who are facing citizenship problems, said Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Wanita Chief, Melanie Chia.

"NRD staff who are handling applications for citizenship by bona-fide Malaysians born in Sabah should understand the unique situation in Sabah.

"Until today, there are still people who give birth at home, especially in rural areas and many are ignorant of birth registration (due to illiteracy).

"They (NRD staff) should be more understanding and sympathetic towards their predicaments and be committed to helping them resolve their citizenship problem, instead of brushing them aside," she said.

She also hoped the the NRD like other government departments would come up with its own "client charter", in order to improve the quality of its service.

Melanie, who is also Luyang Assemblywoman, said this after a meeting with a group of Permanent Resident (PR) or red Identity Card (IC) holders on Wednesday.

The group said there were given red IC by the NRD despite the fact that they were born in Sabah even before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

Melanie said most of the cases she encountered were due to PR not having a birth certificate.

Other than that, complications also arose due to the trend of native people adopting Chinese names during the colonial era in order to secure better employment, besides inter-marriages with other races or non-Bumiputeras.

The situation, she said, eventually affected their citizenship status.

In Wong Yun Moi @ Tihim case, she is a full-blooded Dusun from Papar.

She was born in Kg Togung, Menggatal in 1939 but later adopted her present Chinese name after she married her husband who is a Chinese from Papar in 1958. She was then identified as a Sino-Kadazan.

Initially, she did not face any problem with her citizenship despite not having a birth certificate till today because her parents did not register her birth.

She got her IC after the formation of Malaysia as well as the Sijil Anak Negeri (Native Certificate) in 1974 to acknowledge her "native" status.

But her problem started when she surrendered her old IC during a nationwide IC renewal exercise conducted by NRD in the early 80s.

When she collected her IC, it was no longer blue but red. She had tried all means to restore her citizenship but was unsuccessful.

She claimed that a staff at the NRD even told her that she should not be overly concerned about her red IC because she already possessed the Native Certificate.

But this proved to be a big problem when several years ago her family planned an overseas trip. Her application for an international passport was turned down because of complication in her citizenship status.

And the most puzzling was that Tihim who speaks fluent Dusun, Mandarin and Hakka, as attested by both Melanie and SAPP Youth Chief Edward Dagul during the interview with her, had been allowed to vote in the Kawang Constituency previous general elections despite being a red IC holder.

She was only unable to cast her vote in the last elections because her name is no longer Electoral Roll.

Tihim said the recent case Yong Lee Hua @Piang Lin whose citizenship was restored after her plight was widely reported by the media had given her hopes that she too could regain her Malaysian citizenship.

Melanie said she had received about 30 cases related to citizenship applications and promised to bring them up with the State NRD.


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