This is about yet another complaint on the incompetency of our National Registration Department, who like to play with red tapes with the native.

I'm sure NRD will expedite the case if it involve the Malay. Instead of sitting in the comfortable offices in Simpang Tiga and outright reject the application, why can't the officer try to solve the problem like sending their team to Ulu Baram.

The Sarawak NRD may be caution about new applications especially if they are already adults but they can outright reject the applicant. They could have investigate further and offer assistant to the applicant. Sarawak NRD is a total opposite of Sabah NRD.

Sabah NRD has been known to be over generous in registering the citizens including free registration of the illegal immigrants. Even illegal immigrants from the Philippines and Indonesia have a genuine MyKads.

Related post:
* Restoration of Sabah's rights


Extracted from: (Apr 06, 2008)

Plight of the ‘stateless’

SARAWAK had celebrated its 45 years of independence, and also just held a parliamentary election — two events of great significance to the people — but for Urai Usang, a 52-year-old Kenyah, they hold little pride or meaning.

Urai is among some 20 people in her longhouse at Long Apu, Ulu Baram, who are ‘stateless’ because, although born here, they do not have identity cards.

They are in such a predicament reportedly because of bureaucracy, and sheer ignorance on their part.

In 2002, Kenyah Association treasurer and member of the Longhouse JKKK (village committee), Gerard Lalo Laeng, helped bring a group of about 10 ‘stateless people’ from Long Apu to the National Registration Department (NRD) office in Miri to have their ICs made.

They brought along the necessary documents, including letters signed by their village heads and relatives (uncles and aunties) who were IC holders. The longboat trip to Miri cost more than RM500 — petrol, food and lodging — all paid for by Gerard.

A few months later, Gerard travelled down to Kuching to check on the progress of the group’s applications at the NRD office in the state capital.

But he was in for a rude shock.

“Can you bring them to Kuching because we don’t have their records. If they do not come, we cannot do anything,” the registration officer told him.

A disappointed Gerard replied that bringing the group all the way to Kuching was out of the question because being poor longhouse folks, they could not afford the fare.

Surely, the applications done in Miri should have been enough to satisfy the department’s requirements for approving the ICs, he argued.

“Why should the applications not be approved when they were supported by all the right documents such as letters signed by the ketua kampung and relatives, certifying that the applicants were born in Sarawak,” Gerard wondered.

Subsequently, he brought a group of about 10 people, together with all their relevant documents (including Urai’s) and letters chopped and signed by the ketua kampung to Long Julan, Marudi to apply for ICs.

About five months later, he made enquiries over the silence from the NRD regarding the applications.

Gerard could not understand the delay or the lack of response from the authority since he could vouch for the fact that the applicants were born in Sarawak, and have been living with him in the same kampung where they played games like football or ‘gasing’ as kids.

“Why need to ask them for interview in Kuching? Aren’t their documents, chopped and signed by their ketua kampung and relatives, genuine or proof enough?” Gerard asked.

He explained that his late parents were able to register in Marudi when the NRD launched a registration exercise through its first mobile registration unit there in the 1950s.

In the past, he noted, records were properly kept when people submitted their applications for ICs but nowadays, with all the hi-tech equipment, some people were still finding it impossible to apply despite all the relevant documents provided.

Gerard said he was deeply saddened that the ‘stateless people’ in his longhouse were unable to pursue their education and had to work as manual labourers at timber camps, return to their farms getting involved or in drug abuse or vice.

“The children cannot go to school while their parents have to work without employment benefits. Can you imgine that?”

Gerard said what surprised him was that his cousin, Jalong Langan, from Long Palai, also went to Miri to apply for his IC at almost the same time as a group of ‘stateless people’ from his (Gerard’s) longhouse, and had his MyCard approved.

Gerard said his cousin showed him his new MyCard when he (Gerard) went back to his longhouse in Long Julan recently.

He insisted he could attest to Urai being born in Sarawak as they grew up together in the same area.

“I remember we played together as children but she is now considered an Indonesian by the authorities.

“What’s even more sad is that her daughter, a fifth former at SMK Temenggong Lawai Jau in Long San (four hours by boat from Long Pelutan) in Ulu Baram, will not be able to sit for her exam because she does not have an IC.

“These people have no future and when they die, they die like kataks (frogs) because they can’t even get a death certificate,” Gerard lamented.

He said he was blamed for failing to get them their ICs. “They said I, being an educated person, was supposed to be able to help them get their ICs done in Miri but since I failed, who could they turn to for help?”

According to him, Urai’s case could be a little complicated because her poor family gave her up for adoption when she was a toddler.

Her biological father who had an IC, died when she was very young. She came from a background of poverty and illiteracy — so her father did not come to Long San — the nearest settlement — to register her birth.

Gerard said people like Urai and Elon Bun from the same longhouse and many others had made several trips — which they could ill afford — to Marudi and Long Lama to try to apply for ICs.

They had to bear the costs of food and lodging as these places were remote, unlike Miri which is accessible by timber tracks. Some areas in Marudi and Long Apu can only be reached by rivers via different routes.

Urai who studied at SK St Pius, Long San, Ulu Baram, up to only primary 4 in the 1960s, had tried unsuccessfully a few times to obtain her birth certificate and the latest was in 2002 through the ‘flying service’ to Long Apu.

A sizeable number of Sarawakians from a few longhouses in Ulu Baram, face the same fate and their predicament surfaced during the recent elections when they were not eligible to vote.

For these ‘stateless locals’, if they can be called locals, one of their basic rights is missing — an IC.

It is easy to blame poverty and ignorance on the part of these people, but in Ulu Baram, this is not always the case as bureaucracy and policy implementation can also hinder the process.

“Being poor is their death sentence when it comes to getting legally accepted as citizens through the registration of their birth right,” Gerard said.

What has happened to the NRD exercise to register all citizens wherever they may be? Are the remotest parts of the country totally inaccessible or is the administrative system in need of improvement?

Admittedly, a number of factors is involved such as poverty, lack of education or ignorance, indifference or pure bad luck on the part of ‘stateless people’.

But what have happened to efforts to solve these problems by way of dispatching mobile registration units to remote longhouses?

For starters, the authorities could consider accepting documents certified by the village chiefs when processing the applications for ICs from so called ‘stateless people’.

Many people take their ICs for granted but to those people left in the lurch by extenuating family circumstances further compounded by red tape getting an IC is a serious matter — one of being born in a country and yet living in it like a foreigner.


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