KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 ― The Sarawak education department has to update its database to enable aid access for students who were previously not recognised as citizens due to a lack of identification documents, a state minister has said.
Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, Sarawak's Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister, said the National Registration Department (NRD) had already updated its database on February to recognise 637 students in the state as Malaysians.
“Now that the NRD has updated their status as citizens of Malaysia, the state Education Department too must update these students’ status on the students’ database application,” she was quoted saying yesterday by local paper The Borneo Post.
Fatimah said an upgrade of the education department's database would allow these students who have now been given proper identification documents to enjoy government aid for the poor ranging from food aid, textbooks, uniforms and monetary assistance under the Kumpulan Wang Amanah Pelajar Miskin.
According to Fatimah, a special taskforce had last year found 1,297 students in the state had no identification documents.
Out of this figure, 637 received identification documents, while 79 are determined to be non-citizens and the citizenship of 96 others have not been determined.
For those whose citizenship status have not been determined, they are mostly children born to a Malaysian and non-Malaysian couple before the registration of their marriages.
In such cases where the mother is a foreigner, the child born before the marriage's registration would assume the mother's citizenship, she said.
“This is where the complications arise. In this kind of cases, the parents are advised to notify the NRD for application of citizenship under Article 15A [of the Federal Constitution]," she said, adding that parents are also required to obtain a statutory declaration from local community leaders to support the citizenship application for their children.
As for 435 students out of the 1,297, they had incomplete information regarding their parents' identification and themselves, she said.
Fatimah reportedly said some of these students had misspelt names or had wrong key-in of other details by the schools, which may lead to the NRD's assumption that they are not citizens.