Friday, March 23, 2007

Your Right.

Time: 23:33

Article 15 (1) of United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:
Everyone has the right to a nationality.

Article 15 (2) of United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights reads:
No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

And here is my story:

He has no name.

An alien in his own country, he could not hold a permanent job simply because he do not the proper documentations to.

He has no citizenship, no nationality and no identity.

He could not remember his parents or his childhood at all, other than the undeserved abuse he suffered.

His body still bears the scars, a grim reminder of his painful, unknown past.

15 years ago, when he was only a child of eight, he was left for death along Jalan Ampang after a particularly brutal beating. Just like a stray dog.

Police found him and sent him to Kuala Lumpur Hospital where he was warded for seven months. When he recovered, the welfare department sent him to an orphanage in Kajang where he was raised.

There, he was given the name William, and it is the only name he has.

With the orphanage's help, he managed to obtain a birth certificate at age 15. The columns where his parents' names should occupy were left void.

"Insufficient information," the blanks said.

He acquired a green IC (only applicable for working permit holders and foreigners born in Malaysia and is lower in status than the red IC denoting Permanent Resident status) in 2004, only to lose it after being a victim of snatch thief, along with his driving license, hand phone and cash.

It's as though his circumstances are hard to improve because the government stopped issuing green IC (too many forgery cases), and William was forced to carry his birth certificate with him everywhere.

He also could not replace his driving license without his IC.

Although he has applied for permanent residence in 2004 and citizenship two years later, the status of his application remains unclear.

Hardly surprising, knowing how slow the system works in our beloved nation.

To sit for his PMR and SPM, he had to obtain letters from the National Registration Department to submit to the Education Ministry.

Despite the odds, he finished Form Five and worked odd jobs to support himself after leaving the orphanage. He is a slight, average height and sized, articulate and polite boy.

With such a hard past, it is ironic William is currently working as an entertainer in Sunway Lagoon Theme Park, bringing laughter to the visiting crowds daily.

He said, he manned game booths, dressed up in costumes, make funny noises (he does amazing imitations of Donald Duck) and organise family days for corporations or groups of people in the theme park.

He said he loved making people laugh, and cited the ability as God's gift.

As a 21 year-old part-timer and earning only RM600 to RM700 a month, he is barely making ends meet.

Living alone, he has no criminal records and worked hard to support himself and contribute to the country.

All he wanted sincerely is to gain his right to be a citizen of the country he was born in.

If you can help William, please contact the MCA Public Service and Complaints department at 03-2161 8044.

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I went to his press conference this afternoon where I learnt of his sordid story and found out he has no last name, cannot hold a job legally. has no voting rights, no insurance and no access to a lot of things we, as citizens of Malaysia, took for granted. I wrote his story with a degree of sadness and anger.

I felt very strongly about this issue – as the UN decreed, citizenship is one of the fundamental rights of a human being. He was denied even that. I feel our government has failed him, as he has worked hard to eek out a living without resorting to stealing, begging or depending on social welfare help. I feel disgusted. And sad. This is something I learnt from him. Never, ever, take something so fundamental, so simple for granted. Because there are people here that don’t even have that.

I want to help him, but I know there's only so much I can do. Shah, one of the editors, told me, the best way I can help him is to write his story, and write it so that it reaches out and touches the cold, indifferent, hardened human hearts out there. Wrote I did, though I'm not sure I've done him justice. I hope it is enough. Because he, as I, is a Malaysian and there is no question about it.


meikeng said...

oh, i almost cried!

suanie said...

wah so journalistic!! proud of ya :D

michellegoh said...

I noe, i understand how u feel... the same feeling when i interviewed Myanmar refugees in Malaysia... Journalism is so eye opening!