SEPANG: Children born from illicit affairs and unrecognised marriages make up a large number of young people without any documentation, thus presenting a problem to the Government.
There were 14,095 children whose citizenships have yet to be determined between 2003 and April this year, based on the Home Ministry’s statistics.
The bulk of these cases are due to unrecognised marriages, the undetermined citizenship status of the mother, incomplete documentation of the parents and abandoned children.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was also due to Malaysian men having affairs or not registering marriages with foreigners, including Chinese nationals.
“Some men marry foreigners without informing their legitimate spouse,” he said. “And, they do not register the birth of the children as they probably feel guilty over the affair,” he said in an interview.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said some Muslim marriages took place abroad and were not recognised by the Government nor were they certified by state religious authorities.
“And people blame the Government for their own mistakes,” he said.
Most of the 14,095 children or 87.7% are in Sabah (8,128) and Sarawak (4,236).
Dr Ahmad Zahid said while the ministry had set up mobile units in the interior areas of east Malaysia to register children, it was also awaiting the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) in Sabah on illegal immigrants to be finalised before further action could be taken.
Other places where children whose citizenship status are in a limbo included Selangor (480) and Johor (302).
A documentary in February by non-governmental organisation, Voice of the Children (VoC), on stateless children claimed that there were about 100,000 undocumented children in Malaysia.
According to the VoC’s website, such children did not legally exist, and were extremely vulnerable and “defenceless” against exploitation and their rights.
A recent report by Al Jazeera on stateless children stated that many were from remote communities, while others were children of refugees and migrants.
The report also said some were ethnic Indians who were struggling to prove that they were Malaysians since the late 1950s.
Under the Prime Minister’s Department, the Special Implementation Taskforce of the Cabinet Committee on Indian Community has been put in charge of the MyDaftar programme, which seeks to register those without proper documentation.
Taskforce coordinator Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said there were no short-cuts to solve the problem.
“These children should not become the victims due to the fault of adults,” he said.
BY HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM AND YUEN MEIKENG
Published: Wednesday July 30, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday July 30, 2014 MYT 7:09:51 AM