Historic day for 4,000 new Malaysians

(NST) – The decades-long wait for citizenship is over for some 4,000 applicants in what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak termed as a “historic” moment for the Indian community. Najib handed identification documents to 99 of the applicants yesterday.

Parvathi Marimuthu, 72, who had waited 29 years to receive her MyKad, was among the 5,593 applications, including 4,023 for citizenship, approved since the MyDaftar campaign was launched to address long-standing issues of statelessness in February last year.

“I had applied four times previously but was not successful.

“But thanks to this campaign and encouragement from the prime minister, I am now a proud Malaysian citizen,” Parvathi said.

Najib said the recipients would now be able to exercise their rights as citizens and gain access to basic government services previously denied to them, including healthcare, education and welfare.

“They will now be able to enjoy healthcare services at government clinics for just RM1 and seek employment in the public sector.

“Those in need will benefit from various welfare programmes. For children, they will now be able to attend school and apply for education loans and scholarships.

“Most importantly, they will have the right to vote — that is the power and responsibility to determine the future of the country.”

Najib said conferring Malaysian citizenship upon thousands of recipients in less than a year was a historic achievement, as citizenship was considered among the highest of honours bestowed upon an individual.

“This shows that the government does not make empty promises, but will undertake all efforts to ensure every solution to a problem becomes a reality.”

The MyDaftar campaign was launched by the Prime Minister’s Department’s special implementation task force (SITF) on the Indian community, as part of efforts to resolve long-standing issues, particularly, statelessness and lack of proper identification documents among many Indian Malaysians.

Najib said the campaign, which involved a nationwide roadshow in nine states last year, reflected a proactive approach in resolving problems affecting the community.

“We can no longer wait for those with problems and issues to approach us. Instead, government officials are now taking the extra step of meeting with the people so that they may voice their concerns to us directly.”

He said the campaign, which was carried out between various agencies, including the  Home Ministry, National Registration Department, MIC, police and non-governmental organisations, should be considered an example to other agencies in their efforts to help the people.

Almost 15,000 applications were filed in nine states since  MyDaftar was launched, out of which 9,529 have been processed.

MyKadNajib urged the agencies involved to continue their efforts in processing some 3,900 applications.  

Present at the  ceremony were Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, Human Resources Minister and SITF chairman Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, as well as MIC president and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri G. Palanivel.

Earlier, Hishammuddin said in the past two years, the ministry had   cleared 219,485 back-logged applications for identity documents.

“Of these, 62,604 were related to citizenship, 18,162 were for entry permits and 183,719 were late registration of birth certificates.

“Not all the applications were approved. At least those involved will now get a definitive answer about their status.”

He said plans were under way to extend the MyDaftar campaign to the interior of Sabah and Sarawak and to Orang Asli communities, where problems of lack of documentation and identification were acute.