‘Stateless’ Malaysian Indian seeks royal help to get identity card

September 25th, 2008 - 2:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Sep 25 (IANS) A Malaysian man of Indian origin has decided to approach Sultan Azlan Shah, the royal constitutional head of Perak state, to acquire a permanent identification document denied by the government. R. Ragu, his asthamatic wife G. Neelavathi and three children have travelled in their car from Segamat in Johor state in the country’s south to Perak in the north to get identity cards, The New Straits Times said Thursday.

The National Registration Department (NRD) had asked Ragu to approach the royal head of Perak and obtain permission to get the identification card MyKad.

“The sultan is my last resort. I need to see Sultan Azlan Shah because I need him to help me obtain a permanent identification document,” Ragu told reporters at the office of Perak state executive councillor A. Sivanesan.

“I have been given the runaround by the NRD. I just want to obtain a MyKad for myself,” he added.

Ragu’s problem began when he was abandoned by his parents at the age of four. The police found him by the roadside and handed him to the Social Welfare Department, where he was cared for until he was 16 years old.

“Ten years ago, the department helped me to get a birth certificate in which Rajamani was stated as my father’s name and Bagan Serai, Perak, was listed as my place of birth,” he said.

He does not know the real name of his parents or where he was actually born. With the birth certificate, he was able to obtain a temporary identification document which had to be renewed every year.

However, in 2004, the NRD declined to renew his temporary document.

After visiting the NRD headquarters in Putrajaya many times in the last four years, he received a letter from the home ministry in July, which stated that his temporary identification document could not be renewed due to the government’s instruction.

“The home ministry staff in Putrajaya told me to obtain a letter from the sultan of Perak to support my application for a permanent MyKad since, according to my birth certificate, I was born in Perak.

“I have sought the help of many senior politicians but no one could help me. I will wait for the sultan,” he said.

Ragu said he had been unable to get a permanent job because of his “stateless” status. His wife is unable to work because of asthma and kidney problems.

Asked where he planned to stay until he could see the sultan, he said he and his family would sleep in their car and shower at petrol stations.

“My family and I have put up with a lot of difficulties over the years… what is a few more days of hardship?”

Sivanesan, who met Ragu and his family Wednesday evening, said he would take Ragu to the Perak NRD to help him apply for a MyKad.

Ragu is one of the many ethnic Indians struggling to get their identification documents. In many cases, problems arise since they failed to register themselves, either due to poverty or ignorance, when Malaysia became free from British rule.

Ethnic Indians constitute about eight percent of Malaysia’s population.

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