Malaysia to help ethnic Indians get official documents

Monday, January 24, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR - About 30,000 ethnic Indians are expected to be registered next month in the Malaysian government’s exercise to help them obtain official documents such as birth certificates and MyKad, an identity card.

The operation will see the National Registration Department (NRD) and 30 ethnic Indian-run non-governmental organisations helping to document individuals over a period of eight days, beginning Feb 19.

This is the first time the NRD is working with NGOs, which include the National Union of Plantation Workers, the Headmasters Council and the Tamil Teachers Union, as well as women’s organisations.

Malaysia is home to 2.1 million ethnic Indians, a bulk of them Tamils who settled here during the British era. They form eight percent of a multi-ethnic 28 million Malaysian population.

The Cabinet Committee on Indian Affairs task force coordinator for this campaign, Siva Subramaniam, Sunday said the exercise targeted three groups - children without birth certificates, those above the age of 12 with birth certificates but no MyKad, and youth who had not collected their MyKad.

Subramaniam said some children did not have a birth certificate as they were born out of wedlock, while there were those who were abandoned by their parents or whose parents did not register their marriages.

“It is essential that people come forward. It is also important to educate them that MyKad is vital to get benefits like welfare, education, housing and government aid.

“No one must fear this operation. Indians will be helped as long as they are born in Malaysia,” Subramaniam told the New Straits Times.

He said many of the unregistered people were illiterate or uneducated people who “don’t read newspapers or listen to the radio”.

He added that the education ministry would be roped in to identify undocumented students and help them to register.

Home Ministry senior deputy secretary-general Raja Azahar Raja Abdul Manap said the registration of Malaysian Indians was a continuing problem and hoped people would come forward to register.

He said there was nothing to fear about it, adding that the department would not penalise those who came forward next month.

“The idea is to enable all Malaysians to have proper documents.”

Raja Azahar said the department would set up counters in all the states except Terengganu, Kelantan, Perlis, Sabah and Sarawak.

He said undocumented individuals who were residing in these five states could register themselves in the nearby states.

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