Sabahan new NRD Director
Papar-born Jaffear takes over National Registration amid public outrage
Papar-born Abdul Jaffear Henry, 55, has been appointed as the new Director of State National Registration Department effective October 6. His appointment to replace Abdul Rahman Mohd Nor came amid controversy over local Bumiputras being turned into permanent residents. The move was also in line with Sabah Barisan Nasional leaders’ calls for ‘Borneonisation’ through appointing qualified Sabahans to hold top posts in Federal departments in the State. Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar announced the appointment at a news conference here yesterday to explain various issues concerning permanent residence and citizenship that stirred up a political storm over the past few weeks. The controversy was triggered when United Pasok Momogun KadazanDusun Murut Organisation (Upko) highlighted the plight of local woman Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin, who lost her citizenship after losing her MyKad to pickpockets in February last year. When she applied for a replacement of her lost MyKad, she was given a red identity card (MyPR), which is meant for a permanent resident. The 78-year-old Sino-Kadazan’s problem however fmally came to an end yesterday when she was given a new MyKad. Syed Hamid said nobody should be denied the right to citizenship provided they are eligible and qualified to have it. “Citizenship is not a right, it is a privilege. My intention is to ensure that this problem is solved according to the process of law and procedures,” he said. “My intention is to ensure that nobody, if they have the right to citizenship, is denied the right to be a Malaysian citizen... But everything that we do must be according to the law, then it is easy for everybody. “If there is any problem, such as delay, you are welcome to see us. We want to make NRD as friendly as possible; we want to be able to provide the necessary answers... That way, everybody will be satisfied,”. he said after getting updates during a briefing on the State NRD’s performance, here. He said the agencies under his Ministry, including NRD and the Immigration, are urged to update information as well as learn the local problem and find the best solution to overcome it. Syed Hamid also said he has directed the re-issuance of ‘green card’ to keep track on the identity of people living in Malaysia. “We have revoked it before because some ‘green card’ holders did not know that they wer.e supposed to renew the card after a certain period. The card is not your lifetime identity card, it is just to provide you an identity and not your status in the country,” he said. “This is to allow us to keep track on your movement and to prevent people from stealing your identity. We will start issuing that card again soon,” he added. As for applications for Malaysian citizenship, he said, there are procedures which need to be followed. “There are certain internal procedures which I want to get rid of, such as before, you can apply to be a permanent resident. It would first be rejected and it is up to you whether you want to leave it or appeal, and if you do re-apply, then it would be processed,” he said. “This is what I want to get rid of. I want to look at whether the applicant is qualified or not. If not, then reasons must be provided; there must be a reason for us to reject the application. That one I have already instructed my officers to do,” he said. Syed Hamid said they will explain on the rights and eligibility to apply to be a permanent resident or Malaysian citizen. “Normally, after 10 years residing in Malaysia, you are qualified to apply for PR status but not the right to be a citizen, and after another 12 years, you can apply to be a citizen. We are normally confused by being qualified to apply and the right to citizenship... there is no such thing as right to citizenship unless you are a local,” he said, adding that to date, some 30,000 applications for Malaysian citizenship are being processed by the Sabah NRD. He said children of whose parents is a Malaysian have the rig1t to citizenship provided they are born in Malaysia. For children of Malaysians born outside the country, the parents are required to register the births at the Malaysian Embassy or High Commission in the country where they are born. “This way any problem later about you becoming a citizen would be avoided because you have the automatic right to becoming a citizen. However, we still handle cases where people forgot or did not bother to register, which is through the process of late registration. But it would be much easier if you register at the High Commission or Embassy,’ he stressed. Syed Hamid said issues concerning citizenship, PR or statelessness are human issues which need to be handled well to avoid any tension and reating hatred among one another. “It is our problem together and since Malaysia is so attractive, everybody wants to call this their home. This is our problem, so let us work and settle it together for the good of the people and nation,” he said. Syed Hamid said that before the issuance of identification documents were standardised throughout the country, Sabah was practising a different coding for the PR holders and Malaysian citizens. “Up to 1990, there was no computerised system and the process was handled by the Sabah Government. It was after 1990 when the system was standardised throughout the country that we started collecting data,” he said. “I am sure that if you have been good in Malaysia, there will be no reason why you should be denied the rights as a citizen,” he said when commenting on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok’s call that NRD should be revamped in the effort to provide identification documents to those who have lived in the State before Malaysia was formed in 1963.