Stateless Indians Clock 2

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On day 1 of the new Pakatan Harapan government, I noted that within the wide promise made to the most powerless section of our society, there was an actionable kernel  – to set in place the laws, administrative procedures and outreach that might make it possible to begin addressing the problem of statelessness among Malaysian Indians.  Instead of reporting, as I had hoped, on the state of development of the requisite policy/administrative instruments, this new government has offered relief to that portion of the stateless Indian community that has the least to benefit and whose citizenship has the least consequences for the Malaysian polity. 3,407 Indians above 60 years of age will be given citizenship on the basis of their meeting the requirements for permanent residents to become citizens. The new Prime Minister is reported to have said “We promised this in our manifesto. It took us some time, but we will stick to our promise and issue them a blue IC and they will be regarded as a citizen.” I am sorry to say it, but this is mere eyewash, bunkum even! … and a sign, that for the wretched of our earth, it seems to be Malaysian business as usual Barisan = Harapan … dosen matter bah!

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) advisor N Surendran is reported in Malaysiakini to have countered that what we need, instead of this expediency, is a review of procedures for granting citizenship. I present the report on his words in numbered points for clarity and efficacious communication –

  1. “The policies, operating procedures and methodologies must be thoroughly reviewed and restructured by the new government.
  2. It is the inflexible and unnecessary demands for non-existent documents, evidence and witnesses insisted upon by the ministry and NRD (National Registration Department) which are responsible for both creating and perpetuating the problem of statelessness in Malaysia.
  3. We must reach out to the thousands of stateless persons who have difficulty dealing with the bureaucracy and stringent procedures of the NRD.
  4. Most stateless persons are those who already qualify to be citizens by ‘operation of law’ under Article 14 of the Federal Constitution, but are denied citizenship because they have either inadequate or no documents, are abandoned or adopted children, or their parents’ marriage was not registered.
  5. The problem is generational. Parents and grandparents have no identification documents at all or only red ICs, although born and residing in Malaysia and entitled to citizenship”.

Regardless of how far down this road of reform the new Home Ministry has gone or failed to go, these are the honest and pertinent terms in which the 100 day reckoning of the ‘STATELESS INDIANS PROMISE’ should have been couched.  And you know what my dear Pakatan Harapan? … you can still come clean! In fact you must!

Image: https://boingboing.net/2015/12/02/theres-a-100-hour-rule-n.html

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/08/14/citizenship-stateless-over-60-mahathir-updated

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/438983

Ini Saja India Mau! 2

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While the failure of Barisan Nasional to uplift the Indian community is acknowledged by Barisan itself, by way of MIC’s accusation of Dr Mahathir’s neglect of the Indians during his 22 year tenure, this failure is ironically underscored by Mahathir himself who blames, in turn, his the former ally and MIC leader Samy Vellu for this situation. In terms of my ongoing concern the plight of stateless Indians, it is indeed, clear that in the post-independence years, there has been no proactive attempt to embrace and incorporate these most underprivileged constituents of the Malayan legacy into the Malaysian polity. This is undeniably an abysmal failure, in humanitarian terms, of Barisan governance.

Still it must be acknowledged, while the stake of Indians within Barisan is severely weakened since the heady days of Samy Vellu, it is still defined and perceivable. I do not, however, see the equivalent Indian leverage within Harapan. This lack has been viscerally, if casually, revealed in the dismissive remarks of the coalition’s chairman and Prime Ministerial candidate in what I shall call the ‘Keling Gate’ debacle. But, returning once again to the issue at hand, how does Harapan stand on the all-important question of Indian statelessness? On the face of it, they seem to be doing well. They have diligently called the government out their ineffective and/or disingenuous efforts to solve the problem with programmes like MyDaftar. Members of the Harapan opposition have claimed that there are around 300,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia. A shockingly large number indeed.

It must however, be noted that the Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia, a voluntary non-profit and non-political organization, has stated categorically that their research has revealed only 12,392 stateless Indians as of June 2017. Their president Saravanan M Sinapan has further noted that 2,225 of these have already been granted citizenship, leaving just over 10,000 stateless Indians in Malaysia today. If DHRRA is correct Pakatan Harapan’s promises to the Indian community in the GE-14 Manifesto ring hollow and untrue. These promises to Malaysian Indians include, as first on the list, the following, “1. Menyelesaikan masalah komuniti India yang tidak mempunyai status kewarganegaraan (stateless Indians) dalam tempoh 100 hari pentadbiran kami“. Indeed, given their apparent ethno-electoral hyperbole of 300,000 stateless Indians, even if Harapan scoops every stateless Indian up in the 100 days, they will, by the logic of numbers, surely fall short of their own alleged target of 300,000.

So if DHRRA is correct, Pakatan Harapan has failed on a key election promise to the Indian community even before polling day! Even if we forgive them their numbers, and even if they institute some ameliorative policy quickly, this is not a 100 day problem. People who have been living for generations in the shadow of the nation are not going to be easily found and rehabilitated. Given this, and the recent evidence of Harapan’s attitude in ‘Keling Gate’, the coalition had better pull its finger out in terms of winning over the Indian community – if they want the best from the upcoming elections. Or … am I just not getting it …. could the masterful ‘old man’ of Malaysian politics be knowingly spinning his perfectly pitched racial attitude in the direction of the much needed Malay heartland, fully cognizant of the fact that Indians just do not figure in the Harapan calculation for GE-14!

Image: https://twitter.com/encikail/status/709235617498996736 (edited)

https://www.devex.com/organizations/development-of-human-resources-for-rural-areas-dhrra-malaysia-74304

http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2017/11/13/ngo-finds-12000-stateless-people-in-four-states/

http://kempen.s3.amazonaws.com/pdf/Buku_Harapan.pdf