KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 -- The issue on stateless children, refugees and illegal immigrants was among matters raised by several opposition members of Parliament when debating the motion of thanks for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's royal address at the Dewan Rakyat sitting today.
Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) said the issue should be given priority by the government especially the Home Ministry (KDN).
“This issue has a long-term impact on stateless children where they may be denied access to education as well as healthcare and when they grow up it will be difficult for them to secure employment or travel overseas,” she said.
Yeoh who is also former Women, Family and Community Development Deputy minister also wanted to know whether the government would use DNA testing as conclusive evidence in its criteria to award citizenship.
She also suggested that KDN give priority to citizenship applications submitted by institutions under the Welfare Department (JKM).
Echoing the same sentiment, Datuk Zakaria Mohd Edris (Bersatu-Libaran) asked the government to To state the conditions, procedures n citizenship application process for stateless children according to Article 15 A Federal Constitution.
He also wanted to know about the government's plan to help stateless children in Sabah with their citizenship applications as the state has different topography and demographic conditions from other states.
Article 15A provides special powers to the federal administration to register anyone under 21 years of age as a citizen.
Vivian Wong Shir Yee (PH-Sandakan) urged the government to resolve the long-standing illegal immigrant issues in Sabah.
She said according to the data obtained from the Department of Statistics, in 2019, of the 3.9 million population in Sabah, 28.9 per cent or 1.13 million were registered as a non-citizen which include holders of IMM13, Burung Burung card, and Census certificate.
Wong said IMM13 passes were initially issued for refugees from the Southern Philippines who fled to Sabah in the early 1970s due to civil unrest in Mindanao.
“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees office in Sabah was also closed in 1987...and 30 years later why do we still issue this pass to refugees,” she asked.
KDN in June said it intended to standardise the documentation of illegal immigrants in Sabah by using only one document, namely, IMM13, as one of the strategies to facilitate their identification.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Sabu (PH-Kota Raja) urged the government to continue fighting syndicates exploiting foreigners especially refugees. -- BERNAMA