Home Media statements 2012 Media Statements Stateless Indians gain right to be buried as Malaysians!

Stateless Indians gain right to be buried as Malaysians!

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The plight of ignorant and uneducated Indians is legendary and deserves sympathy and compassion. From a humanitarian point of view, a caring and compassionate government would have rendered services to relieve them of their misery. But that doesn’t seem to be the case in Malaysia.

Prime Minister Najib Razak chatting with (from left) L Vedaiyan, 65, K Ringanayagee, 58, and M Mariamah 60 — all of them proud new MyKad holders. Photograph: Sairien Nafis/NST

For various compelling reasons these deprived poor Indians had failed to secure an identity card and were unable to register the birth of their children. Those working in rubber estates and oil palm oil plantations and those struggling to survive in slum areas never understood the requirements of the law or the implications of non-compliance of the law.

Under such circumstances, they had failed to observe the law. This unfortunate situation condemned them to a pathetic stateless misery for decades. These are the people, born and bred in Malaysia, who remain as stateless persons forced to suffer the indignities of poverty and endure the misery inflicted on them by an uncaring and unsympathetic government.

With a little show of humanity and compassion on the part of the government, they would have been rescued from their misery and could have been assisted to live the life of an ordinary citizen with hope and opportunity. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

There have been instances when they found it difficult to get jobs or a decent shelter above their heads or a place in school – all because they did not comply with the law. When these ignorant and desperate people subsequently tried to register the birth of a child or apply for an identity card, they faced lots of obstacles from an uncaring and totally unsympathetic and hostile bureaucracy. They were given the run around and made to wait endlessly without any relief.

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For the vast majority of them, it was an impossible task to obtain the necessary documents that would have eased their lives. Every attempt to secure a future for them only hit a blank wall. It was such a hopeless situation that many, out of sheer frustration, gave up hope and stopped trying. What else could they do when after 20, 30 years nothing happened?

During this time, the government was always in a position to help them and ease their lives. With a little understanding of their circumstances, with the stroke of a pen, they could have been elevated from their suffering. A little merciful gesture would have rescued them from their abject poverty and made their lives meaningful. But why was nothing done all these many decades?

Is this why the Prime Minister termed the granting of citizenship and handing over of identification documents to these poor suffering Indians “historic”? He made no mention of the pathetic situation which was forced upon them by the bureaucracy and the Barisan government. He did not express any regret for not having acted very much earlier. He could have addressed their plight in 2009 when he became the Prime Minister, or the year after in 2010 or even after that in 2011. But he did nothing. Was it because these were not election years?

What could not be resolved in the last 30 years or so is now miraculously and suddenly resolved – because the election is around the corner. The Indian vote is crucial for the BN. That, some cynics claim, explains this change of heart and charity!

It was reported that 5593 Indians received their MyKad and 4023 Indians received their citizenship (New Straits Times, 15 February 2012). It was no comfort that so many Indians were suddenly legitimised. How is it that, out of the blue, so many Indians had no difficulty in obtaining these important documents in 2012? How is it, this time around, they did not encounter the obstacles that had plagued them previously? How is it that their nightmare vanished, as it were, with a snap of the fingers!

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We have this 72-year-old woman, Parvathi Marimuthu, who was genuinely elated to receive her MyKad and could not contain her joy: “I am now a proud Malaysian citizen.” But she had to wait 29 years to receive her MyKad!

Then there is 73-year-old L Ramasamy, “who was truly overwhelmed after overcoming countless barriers to get his blue MyKad” so suddenly. In his own words: “I have been here since the year Malaysia received independence…” And yet nobody spared a thought for him or bothered to render a little help that could have made all the difference to his life.

Spare a thought for 76-year-old Saharunisah Arshad, who over a period of 35 years had been applying unsuccessfully: “I was a single mother bringing up two children, and earning a living was indeed a challenge without proper identification.” How this old lady would have struggled and suffered – simply because the government did not care.

Another happy person is 65-year-old L Nangalethemy, born and bred in Malaysia, and who finally received her citizenship after previous failed attempts. Why was her application not entertained earlier? On what grounds did she qualify now?

The Prime Minister who was present proudly stated, “They will now be able to enjoy health care services at government clinics for just RM1 and seek employment in the public sector.” He also mentioned that the recipients would now be able to exercise their rights as citizens and gain access to basic government service previously denied then including education and welfare.

What is the point in giving them this privilege when they are in their late sixties and seventies, when they are too old to work, when they are unable to obtain a bank loan or travel in search of a better life? Even if welfare aid is extended to them, how long can they enjoy this when they are so advanced in age? Will this aid be granted immediately or will they have to wait indefinitely, perhaps until the 14th general elections?

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They have no proper shelter above their heads since they cannot afford one and were not qualified legitimately to own one as they were stateless. Will the BN government now provide some form of shelter for them?

They have no savings and they have no benefits from EPF or Socso for as stateless persons they were not eligible to contribute to these agencies. How do they survive in this late stage of their lives?

Who will compensate them for their wasted years and lost opportunities? Aren’t they entitled to some form of a relief from the BN government, which had robbed them of a livelihood?

Mr Prime Minister, what these unfortunate Indians have gained in the twilight years of their lives, after decades of deliberate denial and deprivation, is the right to be buried as Malaysians!

P Ramakrishnan
Executive committee member
23 February 2012

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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3 Apr 2012 4.43pm

While some have seen the light at the end of the tunnel after much suffering, there are thousands more still hoping and waiting for identification documents. I know of two siblings whose father died and mother of unsound mind spending her last years in a welfare home.Despite both parents having blue id the kids were issued with green id while growing up in two separate welfare homes.Despite of the welfare department report identifying the parents the regisration department refuse to issue blue id to the kids. Till today they are still holding temporary id documents. As result whatever jobs they do they are treated like foreign workers with no rights of paid annual vacation, medical leave,epf benefits, socso etc. What will happen if they get married, for sure the problems will be perpetuated.These are downtroden people who are born and bred here.There are thousands in similar situation.What does the govt. propose to do with these people?

Bala Krishnan
Bala Krishnan
26 Feb 2012 9.33pm

The author has very glaringly not addressed the MIC for its disgraceful absence in representing its constituancy ON THIS ISSUE.No thinking Indian can consider MIC,and all its collective leadership as ever representing other than their own interest.RACIAL POLITICS HAS SEEN ITS DAY,YOU VOTE FOR YOUR OWN AT YOUR EXPANSE!

Tang Loon Kong
Tang Loon Kong
24 Feb 2012 12.50pm

Hello Mr Rama

I am the young man who you outside Island Glades Mandrin Cafe coffeeshop this year’s CNY.

Indians especially the poor ones are so isolated from the mainstream. Evidently, their isolation has somehow precluded them from even the bare social necessities like jobs, hospitalization and schooling.

As a result, they are stuck for most of their entire lifes doing the same thing. They could have been given the id credentials much earlier when at the peak of economic productivity. They could have done more for Malaysia.

Getting MyCard and citizenship at such late age evokes much more emotional than rational gratification for them.

At least we Malaysians are happy for them. It is termination of the unhappy (tragic) episodes of their lifes. Every encouragement must be made to get them registered as voters.

What disturbs Malaysians are others who managed to get their citizenships within a very short period of time, even when they sneaked through our very perforated bordering policies?

najib manaukau
24 Feb 2012 8.40am

All because they are not Malays and most unfortunately born in Malaysia. The only solution to the problem is to vote the deceitful and corrupted Umno … out of their ivory towers in Putrajaya in the coming GE !

Thevaraj a/l munnisamy
Thevaraj a/l munnisamy
24 Feb 2012 8.27am

You will find lots of indians still coming here to register themselves.I have few cases personally i know them my neighbours and also in temple near by who try to get citizenship.I myself an Indian speak wat i see and know best of my knowldge.

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