IPOH, July 15 — If Malaysians had to earn their citizenship by carrying out patriotic acts, there is no doubt that R. Ragu would have a blue identification card (IC) in his wallet today.
But things don’t always work out that way.
Meet 43-year-old Ragu, who has literally walked and cycled thousands of miles out of a love for his country. He and his family are known for embarking on long-distance walks and rides to promote a patriotic spirit during Malaysia Day and Independence Day.
He does this because his eldest daughter Nithya Rubhini was born on Malaysia Day — September 16 — 19 years ago.
In 2012, Ragu walked 980km from Melaka to Perlis before going from Johor to Perlis the next year.
The next two years saw Ragu and his two daughters cycle around the peninsula, travelling over 2,000 km each time.
But despite all this, Ragu’s 31-year quest for a full Malaysian citizenship has not yielded any results.
But with a new federal government under Pakatan Harapan, Ragu now hopes this can change.
“I’ve seen reports about how the government is trying to help red IC holders, and I hope they can help me too,” he told Malay Mail.
“I’ve been struggling through life for 30 years because of this. I am getting older and older, and I can’t keep arguing the same point.”
Ragu’s situation has repeatedly made headlines in the past decade.
Abandoned as a child, he has been trying to get a MyKad since the age of 12 but has been unable to do so due to a lack of information about where he was born.
The father of five currently holds a green IC known as a MyKAS which bears the words “bukan warganegara”, or “not a Malaysian citizen” in Malay.
Reports dating back to 2008 state that the late Sultan Azlan Muhibuddin Shah was made aware of the issue. and had said the National Registration Department needed to provide Ragu with a temporary MyKad.
Ragu claims that he received two such cards, before then getting the MyKAS.
His older temporary MyKad however, bore the words “pemastautin sementara” (temporary resident).
Because of his plight, it is much more difficult for Ragu to do the simple things that Malaysians take for granted everyday: holding a stable job, getting a bank loan or planning his children’s education.
“People hesitate to hire someone with a green IC because its so rare. It’s very tough to get a normal job,” he said.
“I hear about people from other countries getting ICs and I just feel so bad. I’m getting older and older...I don’t know what I can do”
Ragu works odd jobs to make ends meet, and with one daughter already in university, he now worries about the future of his family if things don’t change.
“My daughter went to private university because government schools won’t accept her—her father isn’t a citizen. She can’t get help from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) either,” he said.
“But we worry about affording education in the future. Even if our kids do well in school, once they come to tertiary education there might be a full stop there’s no point.”
Despite his situation, Ragu says his drive for “patriotic tours” has not faded.
He will be walking from Melaka to Perlis with his 13-year-old son Surya from Aug 16 to Sept 16 to celebrate Merdeka month. Any donations they get will be given to Tabung Harapan.
“There are times where the situation makes the struggle seem pointless. But I still hold out hope that my problem can be solved.”