‘Stateless folk in Sabah, Sarawak won’t be left out’.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government hasĀ  reaffirmed its commitment to address the issue of stateless people in Sabah and Sarawak, after it was raised by several Barisan Nasional and opposition members of parliament yesterday.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he had recently met the chief ministers of both states to discuss giving those without citizenship a certain status to ensure that they were not neglected.

“We have agreed in principle to give power to the states to allow the heads of villages or longhouses to help the states’ registration departments verify the marriage status of the people there, so we can contemplate giving them the appropriate identification.”

He said this would be carried out in Sarawak, but the move would be suspended in Sabah until the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants had completed its probe.

“In Sarawak, we have already begun our outreach programme and engaged with the representatives there to find out about such cases.

“We want to ensure that those without citizenship, especially children, do not miss out on education and government aid.”

Earlier, Bintulu MP Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing said there were 15 applications for citizenship in his constituency that had not received any response from the government for more than five years.

“There are many children in Sabah and Sarawak who study hard and get excellent results, but cannot enter university because of their citizenship status.

“Is the government planning to address this issue and (if so) when?”

Wan Junaidi said he would look into the matter.

Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen asked why the number of red MyKad holders in Sarawak in 2010 was only 693, but last year, it had increased to 2,762.

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