Malaysian, but not a Malaysian

Since the day he was born, Thayalan Krishnan has been living in Malaysia without basic documentations to prove that he is Malaysian.

Born in Penang, Krishnan, 35, did not have a birth certificate or a MyKad, crippling him off many basic privileges that he could have had as a Malaysian citizen.

“I could not go to school, open a bank account, get a driving license or get a job. All I have is a handphone SIM card,” he said.

The barely literate father of nine was denied a citizenship because his mother did not possess an identity card (IC).

“I could only work as a building painter, for which I’m paid on a daily basis. It was hard to make the ends meet,” he explains further.

Krishnan (second from right) and (P. Uthayakumar (first from left)

Krishnan’s plight did not only affect his own life though as all nine of his children did not have a birth certificate, even though his wife holds a MyKad.

“We were constantly living under the fear of getting caught and detained as illegal immigrants,” he said.

The family found relief last month after the Human Rights Party (HRP) managed to bring their plight to the attention of the National Registration Department (NRD), who provided the family with seven birth certificates and four ICs

However, the pressing concern is that stories like Krishnan’s are not a rarity for the contemporary grassroot Malaysian Indian community.

According to HRP secretary general P. Uthayakumar, there are about 150,000 Malaysian Indians who also suffer from ‘statelessness’ like how Krishnan suffered for his whole life.

HRP have been pushing for a solution to the statelessness problem that has been plaguing the Indian community, but claim NRD’s response so far has proved to be disappointing.

“We asked for the mobile units to go inside the Indian estates as what they do to the orang asli, but we were told by the director that the units only apply to orang asli areas,” said Uthayakumar.

Krishnan’s children

NRD public relations officer Janisiah Mohd Noor however responded to these allegations by stating that the mobile registration program known as MyDaftar has been travelling to several Tamil schools and Indian estates to register undocumented children this year.

In her email reply, she stated that for cases of mixed marriage sans conversion, the matter should be referred to the appropriate religious department for more clarification.

She also stressed that the parents must be in legal wedlock to be registered as the child’s parent.

Janisiah claimed that the main reason for this statelessness plaguing the poor Malaysian Indians is due to their ignorance of law, unregistered marriages, and domestic problems.

NRD is collaborating with NGOs to find a solution to this problem by identifying key areas where the MyDaftar program needs to reach, she further added.