|Sabahan Bumi ends up as a Permanent Resident!
Penampang: Little did a 78-year-old Sino-Kadazan holding a Bumiputra Native Certificate realise the nightmare that would unfold for losing her Identity Card last year.
Within months, Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin has seen her status as full-fledged Malaysian being reduced to that of a Permanent Resident by the National Registration Department (NRD), and with the latter showing no remorse or urgency in reverting to her original status.
Yong’s misfortune began the day her wallet went missing from her handbag at a supermarket at Penampang Baru when on Feb. 12 last year.
Inside the wallet were her Identity Card, driving licence, bankbooks, a gold necklace, RM500, a gold-plated pearl locket, two golden crosses and a set of car keys.
On the same day, she lodged a police report and on Feb. 26, she applied for a replacement IC at the NRD office in Donggongon.
After several months, Yong was told to collect her replacement IC at the NRD office – but the colour was red. “I asked the officer why it was red and she replied that for senior citizens who lost their IC, the department would normally replace them with red ICs,” she said.
Only when she returned home did she learn from one of her sons, Frankie, 55, that red ICs are issued to people with Permanent Resident status.
Her children told Yong to return to the NRD office to replace the red IC with the MyKad issued to Malaysian citizens. However, the NRD officer this time told her to “apply for Malaysian citizenship” instead.
The NRD officer admitted it could have committed an error somewhere and Yong duly submitted the application form to the office on July 2, last year.
But that was not the end of her problem. Soon after, her bank accounts were frozen and she could not withdraw money for her daily expenses.
Frankie said his mother also had difficulty travelling outside the country since she could not renew her expired passport.
“She could not even apply for a temporary passport even though we asked the Immigration Department for a case-by-case basis consideration,” he said.
Because of this, she had to miss many church events abroad, including a trip to Jakarta at the end of this month.
Yong’s other son, Jonathan, 48, said the situation was really tragic because the NRD officer also told her that she is not even allowed to travel to West Malaysia – thus preventing her from visiting her youngest son who is working in a bank in the nation’s capital.
Yong’s husband passed away three months ago, thus compounding her many problems. Fluent in Kadazan and Chinese, she is embarrassed at the fate that has befallen her.
“Wherever I go, I use my driving licence as proof of identity,” she said.
Strangely, she was allowed to cast her vote using her driving licence as identity document during the elections on March 8 since her record in the polling list was still intact.
But when she tried to renew her Malaysian passport, her previous identification records had completely “disappeared”.
Her greatest fear now is what effect her “new status” would have on her seven sons and one daughter.
Resource Development and Information Technology Assistant Minister, Donald Peter Mojuntin shared her fears saying her children’s citizenship could also be withdrawn.
“There has never been a case like this before when genuine Malaysians had their citizenship cancelled. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anybody (Malaysians),” he said.
The NRD officer, he said, should have more compassion for Yong instead of treating her case like the others.
The Moyog Assemblyman, who is also Upko’s Bureau Chief for Citizenship and Security, said there was no reasonable explanation from the NRD as to why Yong’s citizenship was changed to that of a permanent resident.
“If they (NRD) say the policy has changed, I want to ask when they changed it. You must tell the people about the changes,” he said.
He said he has no doubt about Yong’s citizenship because even the Native Court had verified her status as that of a Sino-Kadazan through a Sijil Anak Negeri (SAN or native certificate) on Dec 5, 1963.
The people, he said have been complaining about illegal immigrants who could easily acquire permanent resident status and the MyKad.
But with a stroke of the pen, Yong Lee Hua is now a “foreigner” in her native land.
Mojuntin said Yong had planned to sue the NRD for causing embarrassment through their negligence but hoped a meeting with the Sabah NRD Director would prevent that.
I also hope to meet Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar to pursue this case, he said. “For the NRD to admit their mistake and then tell her to reapply for citizenship is simply illogical.
“The department’s officers should be more compassionate as their actions can have a serious impact on people’s lives,” he said.