KUCHING, Feb 23 — Stateless children in Sarawak who have applied for citizenship will be able to attend school when the new term starts in March, said Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.
The Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister said these children can apply to attend schools by using the reference number given by the National Registration Department (JPN) during their application for citizenship.
“I have received two letters issued by our Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail which are addressed to the State Education Department and State Health Department directors.
“These letters allow the stateless children to receive education in the state. This is the outcome of our courtesy call to the minister on Jan 17 when we brought up the problem faced by our stateless children,” she said.
She was speaking to reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Ambassador of Malaysia to the Holy See Hendy Assan, Ambassador of Malaysia to Brazil Gloria Corina Peter Tiwet, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sarawak Regional Office director Zakaria Nasir at her office here today.
Fatimah gave her assurance that no child will be turned away from receiving education in Sarawak so long as they have applied for citizenship.
“As long as they have applied and have the reference number from JPN, this can be used as their identification and the children can attend school,” she said.
She noted that her ministry will be presenting temporary documents to 75 stateless children before the new school term starts next month.
“This is a state level initiative which will enable the children to have a personal identification document to enter school as well as access to health services at government clinics,” she said.
Fatimah also shared that during her courtesy call to Saifuddin last month, the Home Minister had agreed to reactivate the Special Committee for Citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.
“Not only did he agree to revive the committee, he also mentioned that he will sit in the committee with us.
“This means that the speed of approval or otherwise will be very fast,” she said.
The Special Committee for Citizenship was formed in 2016 with the aim of expediting the process of citizenship application from stateless individuals in Sarawak.
Fatimah previously said that this special committee was formed based on the discretion of the Home Minister and with the appointment of a new Home Minister, the ministry would have to put up a request for it to be continued or reactivated. — Borneo Post