More holders of red ICs come forward to seek help
Another group of people have cried foul that they were given the red identity card (IC) by the National Registration Department (NRD) despite the fact that they were born in Sabah, some even before the ormation of Malaysia in 1963. One of them is Wong Yun Moi @ Tihim, a full-blooded Dusun from Papar, who sought the help of Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Women Chief Melanie Chia on Wednesday. Tihim was born in Kampung Togung in Menggatal in 1939 but later adopted her present Chinese name after she married her husband who is a Chinese from Papar in 1958. She was then dentified as a Sino-Kadazan. But, even hough she did not possess a birth certificate till today, as her parents did not register her birth at that time, she did not have problem with her citizenship status initially. This was especially true, as not only that she was issued with a proper IC after the formation of Malaysia, she was even issued with the Surat Anak Negeri (Native Certificate) back in 1974, acknowledging her “native” status. But the problem with her citizenship status started when she surrendered her old IC during a nationwide IC renewal exercise conducted by the NRD back in the early 80s, when she was issued with a red IC instead. Ever since then, she had exhausted all the avenues applying for the restoration of her rightful citizenship status but was to no avail, without giving her any satisfactory answer. Once, a staff at the State NRD even told her that she should not be overly concerned about her red IC, since she already possessed the Native Certificate. But such consolation was proven to be wrong several years ago when her family wanted to take her on an overseas trip and her application for an international passport was downright turned down by the relevant authorities due to complication in her citizenship status. And the most puzzling was probably the fact that Tihim who speaks fluent Düsun, Mandarin and Hakka, as proven by both Melanie and SAPP Youth Chief Edward Dagul during the interview with her, had been allowed to vote in the Kawang Constituency in the past general elections despite being a red IC holder, until the last general election when she was told that her name was no longer in the electoral roll. Tihim conceded that the recent case of the successful reinstatement of Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin’s citizenship after her plight was widely reported by the media, has nonetheless renewed her hope of claiming back her rightful status as the citizen of this country. Melanie noted that a study of the cases she received showed that a majority of those with red IC thus rendering them the Permanent Resident (PR) status instead of Malaysian citizenship were due to non-registration of birth by their parents. Besides this, there were also complications arising from the trend of adopting Chinese names among the native people during the colonial era, in order to secure better employment, apart from inter- marriages with the other races, the non-Bumiputeras especially, that eventually affected their citizenship status. Melanie, who is also the Luyang Assemblywoman, urged the NRD to be more considerate of the plight of those bona-fide Malaysians in Sabah who are currently besieged by citizenship status problem, mainly due to the unique circumstances of the State. “Those NRD staff who are handling the applications of citizenship by bona-fide Malaysians born in Sabah should understand Sabah’s unique situation better, that is till today, we still have people who give birth at home, especially in the rural kampungs which are far away from administrative centre and many of these parents are still ignorant of birth registration, (probably due to illiteracy). “Therefore, they (NRD staff) should be more understanding and sympathetic towards their predicaments and be more committed in helping them (the applicants) to resolve their citizenship problem, instead of simply brushing them aside,” she said. She also hoped like the other Government departments, the NRD too could come up with the ‘client charter’ of its own, in order to better improve the quality of its service to the public. Meanwhile, Melanie disclosed that ever since the successful reinstatement of Yong’s citizenship was reported on October 9, she had received some 30 cases related to citizenship application.