LABUAN: Three non-governmental organisations (NGOs) yesterday made their stand to give full support to government affiliate, Gabungan NGOs Negeri Sabah’s move (Gannos) to conduct a census on about 800,000 individuals in Sabah and Labuan who claim to be stateless or do not possess any identification document.
The NGOs are Labuan Cultural and Ethnic Welfare Association, Labuan Taman Mutiara Residents Association and Labuan Indian Chamber of Commerce Industry.
Group leader Asroh Sukardi said there is still a high number of such individuals including school-going children not only in Sabah but also in Labuan, who are undocumented even though their parents or at least one of them, possess valid travel documents like Malaysian identity card (IC).
“Our associations have been approached by a number of people who claimed to be stateless, following the recent Gannos statement on the stateless issue, and we feel that we can highlight this together with Gannos to help resolve this long-standing issue,” he said yesterday.
Asroh said there are also many school-going children who possess only birth certificate but no status of citizenship due to their parents’ marriage had not gone through the Department of Islamic Religious Affairs Sabah (marriage not registered with JHEAINS) or due to their non-Malaysian biological mother.
“The exact number of families currently going through this situation cannot be determined, but we believe it is high, and to this, we are willing to be with Gannos to conduct the census on undocumented individuals in Labuan,” he said.
On June 22, Gannos issued a statement on its move to conduct a census by 29 Gannos associations beginning June 23 in seven zones – North West Coast, South West Coast, Upper Interior, Lower Interior, Labuan, Sandakan and Tawau.
For a start, the census task force will only collect 10 samples (undocumented individuals) in each district.
They will be given till July 15 to return the census or research forms to the secretariat. The census report will be filed and submitted to the state and federal governments.
The census is aimed at helping the people and government to address the issue.
“We do not want to see Sabah after 20 years for instance, being full of undocumented people,” he said.
He also said a monitoring and disciplinary committee would also be formed to prevent any party from taking illicit advantage of the census including soliciting money from the public.