Civil society slams Putrajaya for downplaying number of stateless Indians

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
Surendran urged the ministry to retract the released figure and take immediate steps to ascertain the true situation of the stateless people here. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Civil rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has slammed Deputy Home Minister Azis Jamman today over his claim there are only 3,853 stateless ethnic Indians Malaysia.

Its adviser, lawyer and MP N. Surendran, said the group was shocked with the claim, calling it was completely illogical for Azis to base his figures merely on the number of applications that the ministry had received.

“There are thousands upon thousands of stateless Indians around the country whose applications have not reached the Home Ministry.

“This is because large numbers of stateless persons have either had their applications rejected or have not even put in proper applications,” he said in a statement.

This follows Azis’ statement today in the Dewan Negara, saying the figure of over 300,000 stateless Indians living here was inaccurate, according to the number of registration applications his ministry had received.

Surendran then backed his own claim of over 300,000 stateless people, saying the number was first suggested in 2012 and based on feedback from NGOs and activists, as well as population studies.

“Instead of verifying the estimate by going to the ground, the ministry is taking the easy way out by dismissing it out of hand. No government census has ever been done to ascertain the actual total number of stateless Indians.

“In the absence of such a census, it is highly irresponsible for the deputy minister to claim that there are only 3,853 stateless Indians,” he said.

He claimed the drawbacks of the National Registry Department (JPN) and the lack of awareness and education were hurdles in establishing the real figure of stateless Indians.

“Many of those, who had their applications rejected, had applied multiple times, and have given up trying.

“For those thousands that have not put in applications, lack of education, ignorance and an inflexible bureaucracy at the JPN offices are among the main causes,” he claimed.

He then urged the ministry to retract the released figure and take immediate steps to ascertain the true situation of the stateless people here.

“We call upon the Home Ministry to retract the completely baseless claim of only 3,853 stateless Indians, and take immediate steps to identify and issue blue IC (identification cards) to all qualified stateless persons,” he added.

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