Stateless people, who are they?
Every nation has its share of stateless people – a horrible status in a world made of nation states. And so much is tied to being a citizen.
From very basic things like the right to abode. Imagine living your life in one place all your place- the streets, the schools, the shops and place of work, they are all familiar to you. This is the life you know. However since you lack documents to prove your status you are asked to leave. Just like that.
Many nations have had serious discourses about it. America used to think of the Mexicans crossing the Rio Grande for a better life as parasites of the state. Yet civility and reason has become dominant. Now, clemency programmes ever so often are common, and governments find ways to get those who contribute to the economy a place in the society.
The thing is they are already in your society, and most situations contributing. How do you treat them? With respect of course.
Others are stuck by cultural limitations. The Japanese and Germans could not see the ethnic Koreans and Turks respectively as citizens since they saw race as a prerequisite for integration.
They’ve changed their minds albeit at a snail’s pace initially, embracing the dynamism of a world of inclusiveness not exclusivity.
There are now Brazilian and Anglo-Saxon Japanese.
Before that, in both instances you had people who were homeless in their own state.
The Malaysian paradigm
The recent quit threat by UPKO (United Pasok-Kadazan Organisation) from BN unless the status of one Sino-Kadazan lady was dealt it, showed real cracks in the processing of documents at government offices. And it was resolved in record time after the threat was uttered, how so miraculously.
My suspicion is her name Yong Lee Hua had everything to do with the matter. If she had a Kadazan name but 4/5 Chinese blood, the matter would not have reached national proportions.
It is not written in any manual or procedural handbook at the National Registration Department, but the name of the person, not his or her status would affect the processing at the department.
Am I making an allegation? I most definitely am.
There is rampant racism in our government departments, the NRD are conspicuous because they are literally by the stroke of a pen – perhaps by the press of a keyboard button – ending the citizenship of people in this country.
My friend has a wife and two kids. Which is normal. Both of his children are Malaysian born, like their father. Their mother isn’t.
The older daughter got her mykad when she hit 12, but the son’s application was refused once the clerk realised that his parents were not married when he was born. So he was denied a mykad, but worse still they took his birth certificate and altered it, so that it read non-citizen.
How does one do that to a 12 year old and go home and sleep easy?
He is lost on what to do since he is only a cabby. A father without an answer – is he to tell his son that he cannot be a citizen of his birth and his father’s?
The way Ragu got pushed around by the NRD, along with his wife and children, and asked to get the Sultan to endorse him in order to be recognised as a citizen, somehow seems repugnant.
How can you make a man go through hell just so?
The problem of stateless Malaysians must come along with an equal number of stories on how they were shooed away by civil servants – who can’t care less. These are thousands and thousands of instances of abuse at offices – the abuse of taxpayers by those living off the taxpayer.
Can we put aside our politics aside and consider these people as human beings, with very human needs?
Should it always be about how many Chinese voters we will end up getting in Permatang Pauh, and whether the Malay ratio is on the rise?
There is something very wrong with our moral compass lately, all of us. The institutionalising of hate in our society has made us perpetually at a state of war with each other, without us realising it.
My mom would prefer me to help Indians stranded by the road than others, and every consideration starts with race, and any action taken with just a race think is considered reasonable, thus the hard time the overwhelmingly Malay civil service is showing in the recent past.
The weight of race think is starting to catch with us, and we all don’t look pretty.
Sometimes, all of us have to learn to the decent thing, irrespective of how drilled in race think is in us.