Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia was established to promote strong and self-reliant communities through people’s empowerment initiatives. More than a decade in implementing community development programmes exposed us to the living conditions of stateless people.
In mid-2014, DHRRA set out to address statelessness in West Malaysia. Understanding the scale of statelessness, its causes, and consequences relies on accurate baseline data. Gathering accurate baseline data on statelessness was the obvious and necessary first step to addressing the problem itself. Since then, we compiled accurate baseline figures on statelessness in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak and Kedah through our registration and community based paralegal aid services.
DHRRA gathered a pool of cases on statelessness (more than 12,500) and identified cross-cutting issues causing and preventing the reduction of statelessness. More significantly, we identified the necessary administrative or legal measures required to find a solution for them. In Malaysia most of the statelessness scenarios could be loosely categorised in three types:
1. Born or Arrived before Independence Day/ Malaysia Day
2. Children with at least one Malaysian parent
3. Children adopted through informal adoptions
In addition to the above categories, there is a small number of cases consisting of abandoned or foundling children.
Ending statelessness requires a higher intensity of collaboration between a wide range of actors including the stateless people themselves. DHRRA’s registration and community based legal aid services established the full scope of this problem and will continue to drive for advocacy efforts to find durable solutions for stateless persons in Malaysia. Part of our efforts includes publishing the awareness handbook in two series:
The experience over the last couple of years in Malaysia showed that a lot can be achieved in this area. Through strong cooperation with the Government and stakeholders, DHRRA intends to build on the political will of the Goverment of Malaysia. In reference to the Malaysian Federal Constitution, there are sufficient safeguards to address statelessness, indeed political will and concerted action by governments are key to resolving statelessness.
Saravanan M. Sinapan,
President of DHRRA Malaysia