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Time to pay more attention to ‘invisible children’: Syerleena

September 17, 2023


Address plight of stateless kids by revisiting, refining citizenship laws, says DAP MP.
Article from TheVibes.com:

PETALING JAYA – In light of Malaysia Day, which is now 60 years old, a DAP MP highlighted the need to address the issue of child statelessness, calling it a “heartrending situation that demands immediate action and empathy”.


Bukit Bendera MP Syerleena Abdul Rashid said the plight of stateless children in Malaysia is an issue that demands urgent attention from both the public and policymakers alike.


“These children, who are born into a state of legal limbo, face a life marred by a lack of access to basic services such as education, healthcare, and employment opportunities, rendering them virtually invisible in the eyes of the state,” Syerleena said.


She stressed that a stateless child is not just a child without a country, but a child stripped of future prospects and pushed to the fringes of society.


“A significant portion of these children become stateless due to complex laws and bureaucratic entanglements that prevent them from obtaining citizenship, even if they are born in Malaysia.


“Problems often arise from gaps in documentation, parents who are themselves stateless, or regulations that make it difficult for mothers to pass their nationality onto their children,” she said in a statement.


Syerleena said every Malaysian should care about this issue as leaving these children stateless is akin to a massive violation of human rights.


“Stateless children in Malaysia are being effectively stripped of their dignity and opportunities for personal development, trapping them in a cycle of poverty and neglect.


“These children grow into stateless adults who cannot legally work, pay taxes, or contribute to the social and economic fabric of Malaysia. Lacking legal rights and safeguards, these vulnerable individuals become easy targets for exploitation and involvement in illicit activities,” she added.


Not only are these children affected but further neglect of the issue puts the broader well-being and stability of the country at risk.


The prolonging of this intensifies social imbalances and rifts and creates a marginalised underclass that is systematically disadvantaged.


“This not only heightens social discord but also wears away at the cohesive ties that hold communities together. Given Malaysia’s already complex ethnic and religious tapestry, it is crucial that we tackle problems that can exacerbate division and discord,” she said.


Time to revisit and refine citizenship laws.


Syerleena said this issue can be tackled by revisiting and refining the country’s citizenship laws.


There is a need to simplify the administrative process, especially when it comes to documentation gaps.


She said there is a need to allow a humane level of flexibility in certain situations in order to make meaningful strides toward justice.


“Additionally, these reforms should be accompanied by public awareness campaigns that inform communities about the importance of proper documentation and the avenues available for legal recourse.


“While legislative reform is crucial, we must not underestimate the invaluable contributions made by non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations.


“These entities have been working relentlessly, providing both immediate assistance and sustainable solutions to uplift stateless children. From grassroots activism to legal support, they frequently serve as the vital link connecting these marginalised children to essential resources,” she said, adding that a collaborative effort between governmental agencies and these organisations could accelerate positive outcomes.


“This isn’t just a complex tangle of laws and bureaucracy, it is a devastating reality that has far-reaching consequences on a human, social, and economic level,” Syerleena remarked.


“By confronting this egregious breach of human rights, we are doing more than just bettering the lives of these marginalised children, we are also shaping a Malaysia steeped in fairness, unity, and prosperity – a country that we can all be proud to belong to.” – The Vibes, September 17, 2023


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