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Fighting For Stateless Malaysians

In 15 June, some 300 people staged a sit-in at the Ipoh Registration Department, demanding that the national registration department (NRD) recognised the right of about 100 stateless people to be recognised as Malaysian citizens. The 100 plus affected residents from Ipoh and surrounding areas were joined by Pakatan Rakyat activists.

It compelled the director of the state NRD, who initially refused to have anything to do with the crowd, to come down from his office on the upper floors and discuss matters with the leaders of the campaign. However, even he walked out of a discussion with PKR vice-president N Surendran, who is leading the campaign to legitimise the stateless.

The director’s insistence that the stateless apply for citizenship under articles 16 and 17 of the constitution was the contentious point in the discussion that saw him walk off in a huff. “Articles 16 and 19 apply to foreigners wanting to be citizens,” argued Surendran.

“The stateless here are people who were born and have lived in Malaysia all their lives and should be legalised under Article 12 of the constitution.”

Surendran said the next stage was to gather as many of the stateless, whose numbers he estimates as between 200,000 to 300,000, at Putrajaya to press their cause for legalisation.

Some of the PR leaders present at the sit-in included former Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, DAP vice-chairman and Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran and PKR Perak chief Mohd Nor Manuty. – The Rocket

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