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Waytha: Gov't in talks to find 'comprehensive' solution to statelessness

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Putrajaya is currently in the final stages of consultation with various stakeholders and will be submitting papers to the cabinet for final approval to solve the issue of stateless children and undocumented Malaysians.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waythamoorthy said that the Pakatan Harapan government was aware of the people's anxiety over the issue, and is working to find a comprehensive solution to this issue.

"The government is also aware that these stateless individuals are in vulnerable position and at serious risk of suffering abuse, neglect and violence perpetuated by limited access to education and healthcare, increased social and financial marginalisation, exploitation and vagrancy," he said in a statement today.

Waythamoorthy said that there were various reasons as to why individuals, a sizeable number of whom were Indian Malaysians, had become stateless and undocumented.

These included their parents' own citizenship status, lack of supporting documents (dating back to pre-Merdeka years), poverty, abandoned children, unregistered marriages due to one of the spouses being stateless and ignorance among others, he said.

"The Malaysian Indian Transformation Unit (Mitra), an agency under the Prime Minister's Department has, based on case studies, identified 10 varying categories of stateless persons and challenges in their objective to be conferred citizenship within the ambit of our current laws," his statement read.

Mitra, he said, was also currently working with related government agencies to outline a comprehensive solution to the stateless issue, in line with the Harapan government's manifesto promise.

He also said that the existing provisions of the Federal Constitution had been narrowly interpreted by civil servants, and there was a lack of empathy and willingness to use their discretionary powers within the ambit of the Federal Constitution.

Highest award

Sarawak welfare, community wellbeing, women, family and childhood development minister Fatimah Abdullah, meanwhile, said the granting of citizenship was the highest award given by the federal government to individuals who were non-citizens.

"We do not want to see children born in Malaysia to face hardship in obtaining education, whereas their biological parents are Malaysian citizens," she said.

Fatimah said this at a function to hand over the citizenship approval letters at Wisma Wanita in Kuching today.

She said the Special Committee on the Citizenship Status was set up in 2016 and had obtained the agreement from the Home Ministry.

- Bernama

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