On 17th May 2017, we held a forum on statelessness in collaboration with UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency) at BAC PJ Campus.
We invited the following speakers to talk about 'Malaysia's Invisible Problem: Statelessness':
1. Illy Kamaludin (Assistant Protection Officer (Statelessness), UNHCR Malaysia)
2. Maalini Ramalo (Senior Manager for Social Protection, DHRRA Malaysia)
3. Syahredzan Johan (Human Rights Lawyer)
4. Marques Jeevan Menon (Principal, Nation Building School) [Moderator]
According to UNHCR, every 10 minutes 1 stateless child is born somewhere in the world. Today, at least 10 million people around the world are denied a nationality. Illy Kamaludin said as a result, they often aren’t allowed to go to school, see a doctor, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married.
Stateless people may have difficulty accessing basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement. Without these things, they can face a lifetime of obstacles and disappointment. Maalini Ramalo from Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas, Malaysia (DHRRA) shared personal stories of engaging with stateless people in Malaysia, particularly the Indian and indigenous Sabahan Dayak Laut peoples.
Syahredzan Johan, a prominent human rights lawyer explained the constitutional law on citizenship - how can one attain a Malaysian citizenship, its rights and how can one lose it. He shared verdicts of court cases on stateless people. He noted Malaysia is a long way to go in addressing stateless people from a legal standpoint.
The forum ended with a workshop conducted by UNHCR whereby participants were split into 5 groups and had to do present on statelessness. While statelessness is a complex issue requiring legal and policy prescriptions, citizens have a role in understanding and championing the rights of these invisible people.
Read more about statelessness at http://www.unhcr.org/stateless-people.html.
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