Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Special Unit should give priority to local cases: Donald


United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun and Murut Organization (UPKO)’s Citizenship and Security Bureau hopes the Special Unit at the National Registration (NRD) and Immigration Departments will give priority to cases concerning locals. Bureau Chief Donald Datuk Peter Mojuntin said special attention must be given to Sabahans holding red Malaysian identity cards as these people have been waiting for more than 20 years for their citizenship. “We understand the delay when foreigners are concerned. However, quite a number of red MyPR holders who are by every right Sabahans save for the fact that they were born in another country, have been waiting for decades for their application for citizenship to be approved,” he said and hoped that the Special Unit will prioritize the settlement of these cases. According to Donald, there are also cases of foreigners married legally to local Sabahans who had to wait a long time for the result of their PR application compared to 1MM 13 holders who seem to obtain their PR easily and the matter has become a sore point as well as a source of discontentment for locals. “We beg to differ with the honourable Minister that efforts to help our rakyat with regards to birth certificates, citizenship and status for their foreign spouses is politicising the issue. “As far as we are concerned, these are real issues that our people face day to day and there is an urgency to sort them out. Every responsible leader of the State and Country should be very concerned with a matter as fundamental as cases of ‘anak watan’ Sabah being denied citizenship,” he stressed. Donald also questioned the lengthy time taken by the authorities to process the Donald applications. “When a file reaches NRD Putrajaya, how many times does it have to be looked at before they are sure the application is genuine? Does the NRD have surveillance officers to monitor the applicants for years? “Most of the cases involving ‘anak watan’ are straightforward and this fact can be verified effectively if NRD officers interview family members as well as community leaders,” he said. According to Donald, it is understood that each case must receive the utmost scrutiny to ensure that there are no forgery or abuses but he was perplexed as towhy the scrutiny is only reserved for genuine applicants compared to apparently easier and express process for illegal immigrants and even 1MM13 holders. Donald added, “This is the heart wrenching reality for Sabahans. The Home Miflistry and the departments under it must realise and accept this. It must be a factor to be considered when looking through relevant applications made in Sabah. He said that whether the Government likes it or not, the perception and belief of the Sabah people is that it is easier for illegal immigrants and 1MM 13 holders to obtain legal documents by illegitimate means than it is for genuine applicants who follow the legal process. “Perhaps the Special Unit can also address this very pertinent issue,” he said. Donald also disclosed that the UPKO’s Citizenship and Security Bureau has been continuously receiving requests for assistance from all over Sabah with their respective applications and problems related to NRD. The cases brought to them are varied, he said adding, “suffice to say that they involve birth certificates, citizenship and PR status. We hope that we can work hand in hand with the NRD to settle as many of these cases as possible. “We managed to meet new State NRD Director on our last visit to the Department and we are happy to say that he has agreed to have a round table discussion with the Bureau in the near future,” he added. Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar on Tuesday announced the setting up of the Special Unit at the NRD and Immigration Department which, he said, would ensure that the backlogged applications for citizenship and residents status are cleared quickly. He said the Unit was set up following numerous complaints, especially in Sabah of applicants being kept waiting for too long to get their applications processed. “So I hope this issue will not be politicized anymore because it must be stressed that the applications cannot be simply approved as there are rules and regulations which have to be observed,” he said, adding that the applications must be scrutinized to avoid forgery cases. This, he pointed out, was to prevent the abuse of birth certificates, identify cards and passports issued by the Malaysian Government following reports of such cases by the Interpol