Lawyers for Liberty executive director Latheefa Koya has lambasted the Pakatan Harapan caucus set up to address the issue of stateless Malaysians, which is composed of only Indian lawmakers.
She argued that such an issue was one of national importance, and should not be addressed through an ethnic lens.
“This is the time and opportunity to break the racial mould in dealing with the problems of the people.
“We must not revert to the BN method of leaving it to the ruling coalition's Indian leaders and elected representatives to form caucuses or groups to hold press conferences and petition the government for changes to be implemented.
“Why again are the Indian leaders left to take up Indian issues, which should be the concern of all government leaders and elected representatives, irrespective of race?” she asked in a statement today.
The caucus comprises over 20 Harapan lawmakers, including Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, Kuala Langat MP Xavier Jeyakumar, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Sungai Buloh MP R Sivarasa, Batu MP P Prabakaran and Perai assemblyperson P Ramasamy.
Yesterday, they held a press conference pledging their commitment to solving citizenship issues faced by the Indian community, which Harapan had pledged to solve within the first 100 days of assuming office.
Santiago, in particular, had said that statelessness was an issue faced by all races.
"My office in the last three weeks opened up (registration) counters and we received not only Indians but also Malay, Chinese and others," he told the press conference.
Home Ministry should take charge
Latheefa, who also sits on PKR’s supreme council, said statelessness should be under the purview of the Home Ministry and the entire cabinet, rather than a caucus of select lawmakers.
“It is in fact the duty of the Home Ministry to resolve statelessness.
“They have the legal authority, resources and logistics to end the citizenship woes of the community for once and for all.
“It is far better than the various aspects of Indian socio-economic troubles be dealt with and resolved by the cabinet as a whole, with the close participation and involvement of the respective ministries,” she said.
Latheefa has represented several stateless clients herself, including STPM top scorer Roisah Abdullah.