A recent YouTube video on Dayak Daily has gone viral and brought attention to a young lady named Rachel Sia living in Sibu, Sarawak. Despite being adopted by her foster parents Peter Sia Chew Ong and Lau Kui Fua in 1999 shortly after her birth, Rachel is still a stateless child at the age of 19 years old- deterring her from living a normal life.
Rachel used to have an original birth certificate but with the absence of her biological parents’ names, whom are currently still untraceable. This did not cause her any trouble until she was 12- when her birth certificate was taken away from her and cancelled by the National Registration Department (NRD). She was then issued a new birth certificate that includes the names of her foster parents. The problem is this- Rachel tried to apply for her MyKad (the Malaysian identity card) but to no avail. Due to her updated birth certificate, she was not granted citizenship and hence, unable to take her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) which is the Malaysian Certificate of Education.
Rachel and her adoptive parents have sent in a handful of applications to NRD for Rachel’s Malaysian citizenship over the years but their efforts were futile. All that they were told was to wait, yet unfortunately they have waited for nine long years and still no action has been taken to alleviate the situation.
A young, beautiful and talented girl like Rachel dreams of becoming a pianist and travelling the world. However, without her Malaysian citizenship, her future is bleak. She is unable to attend college or university, needless to say to see life outside Sarawak.
In the video, Rachel’s mother Lau Kui Fua, who is in tears, appeals to the state and federal governments to look into Rachel’s situation and pass a fair judgment. She narrates how Rachel has gone through cases of bullying at school due to her statelessness and even considered suicide as her way out.
“How much more (do) we have to suffer, (and) go through? She is just 19 years old, she (did not) do anything to hurt the country. She tries her best”, Lau begs. She added that Rachel has been born and raised in Malaysia her whole life, and she prays her daughter, alongside other stateless Malaysians, can be recognized as a Malaysian citizen and granted an identity card.
As neighbours to Malaysia, Singaporeans can choose to watch Rachel and other Malaysians who are encountering similar situations suffer or we can choose to bring awareness to this pressing issue and hope the Malaysian government will take swift action to help these stateless persons.
Also, we learn that we should never take anything we have for granted la. So thank you, Singapore!