Govt must focus on problem of statelessness: Liew

19 Mar 2019 / 19:33 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government must focus on efforts to improve the registration or births and other vital statistics on the people to address the problem of statelessness.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said this is to meet the requirements provided for under a 2014 ministerial declaration.

Malaysia is a signatory of the declaration that, among others, requires the government to ensure good governance and public administration.

“Identifying who is within our territory is central to good public administration,” he pointed out in his opening speech at a forum on Childhood Statelessness here today.

He said one of the causes of statelessness could be the lack of education.

“As a result, some people are not aware of the need to register the birth of their children. Other contributing factors could be the emphasis on meeting basic needs and the lack of good communication to the towns,” he added.

He noted that in the end, children were the ones who felt the impact of statelessness most profoundly.

“This puts a limit to their potential to contribute to their own communities from a very young age,” Liew said.

“When we were young, our parents always told us to live a good life. But unlike stateless children, we had the privilege of going to school.

“If they are given the chance to become citizens, they will have the same opportunities as everyone else to learn, play and become full members of their society,” he added.

Nonetheless, he said, the government had made great strides in addressing the issue of statelessness. For a start, there is access to public schools now for stateless and undocumented children.

Liew said this was part of the Education Ministry’s “Zero Reject Policy” to ensure that all children, including undocumented ones, had access to education.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had recently announced that stateless but permanent residents in their senior years would also be given citizenship subject to them meeting relevant conditions.

“This is in line with the Pakatan Harapan pledge to resolve the issue of statelessness in the Indian community,” Liew said.

“Granting citizenship to holders of red identity cards aged 60 and above is seen as a positive move,” he added.

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