Long wait for Malaysian red IC holders

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There are now five categories of citizenship application: wives of citizens; children of Malaysians aged below 21 years; application made under special circumstances for children aged below 21 years; those born before Merdeka; and applicants who are above 21 and have lived here as a permanent resident for more than 12 years.

The National Registration Department processed 32,927 applications for citizenship between 1997 and 2006.

Between 2007 and 2009, 29,677 applications were received, out of which 14,179 were approved while the remaining 15,498 applications are expected to be finalised by end of the year.

Thousands of people are awaiting the result of their application for citizenship. The number of persons waiting for their citizenship applications to be approved is huge. It was reported in this paper yesterday that 30,000 individuals are waiting for the outcome of their application, which were made between 2007 and 2009.

It is not only red tape, says Chiew. One reason is that their applications keep getting rejected.

“Their applications have to go through various stages and many have come to expect rejection first. Usually, no reason is given for the rejection. Once rejected, they have to wait for two years to apply again.”

NRD director-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim feels that many applicants have the misconception that getting a Malaysian citizenship is their right.

“It is actually a reward and the highest award from the Government of Malaysia to the applicant,” he says, adding that even those born in Malaysia do not automatically have the claim to be Malaysian citizens under the operation of law.

“Every birth in Malaysia must be registered in the NRD and the citizenship status is based on their parents’ nationality at birth.”

Alwi is sympathetic towards those who were unsuccessful in their applications but laments the public’s lack of understanding of the process.

“Most people do not understand that the NRD does not have the authority to approve their citizenship applications. They need to know and understand that there are processes that the applications need to go through before the decision can be made by the Home Minister.”

The process, he explains, is long as the Government has to be thoroughly sure that the applicant is highly deserving of Malaysian citizenship. They also need to prove that they can contribute to the country as well as show their loyalty and not bring any harm or danger to it.

Easier process

One aspect that many are not aware of is that existing laws and mechanisms have been made easier for applicants aged 50 and above. They no longer need to sit for a written Bahasa Malaysia test and only have to attend an interview in which their understanding of the national language and the Federal Constitution is tested.

But, says Chiew, most of the time the questions asked in the interview are difficult.

“Sometimes you get questions like ‘What is the full name of the second Sultan of Terengganu?’ I don’t think even you or I can answer that, what more an old person like Chang.”

Alwi points out that despite the challenges, the NRD and the ministry have cleared all the application backlogs.

“Currently, we are processing applications from 2007 to 2010. All applications prior to 2007 have been processed and the results are out.

“The results for 2007, 2008 and 2009 applications will be issued by end of this year while those for 2010 applications will be issued by 2012.”

To help resolve the problem, the party’s central committee member and Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong was given the task of identifying the reasons for the delay.

When Malaya achieved independence in 1957, everyone who was born here was given a year to take the citizenship oath.

“As PR, they are not eligible for free medical services or the subsidies provided for senior citizens at Government hospitals. They are also not eligible for other incentives provided to retirees.”

Hence, many were overjoyed when Dr Chua recently proposed that red IC holders aged 60 years and above with children who are citizens be granted citizenship automatically.

That will definitely help clear the NRD backlog,

Read more in the Stars, Long wait for red IC holders By HARIATI AZIZAN

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