From red tape to running around
Writer: Brenda Ch'ng
Published: Fri, 25 Jan 2013
LITTLE Suzie (name changed) was rescued in April 2007, only two-and-a-half months old and already starting her life caught in a human trafficking web.
Five years down the road today, Suzie is still fighting for a citizenship and a place here in Malaysia, despite already being adopted by Hartini ever since being rescued.
“I had to go through a lot of procedures, some are ridiculous because NRD (National Registration Department) and the Welfare Department wanted prove the baby was abandoned and they also wanted witnesses saying they saw me finding her at a certain place and time and so on,” she said.
Upon receiving a call about an abandoned child and picking Suzie up, Hartini went straight to the police station to report the case and then to the hospital to get a full body check-up.
With those documents standing in as documented proof that the baby was trafficked and rescued, Suzie managed to obtain a birth certificate, but still labeled as a non-Malaysian.
“Sad thing is the authorities cannot even take this case as human trafficking because when it involves the buying and selling of babies it is categorised under illegal gambling,” she said.
This is because there is no witness to the trafficking except for the newborn baby who is clueless and the buyer and seller who obviously will not confess.
In addition, Hartini does not know where Suzie is from or where she was born, making it hard for her to obtain a birth certificate initially.
“One part of the birth certificate required you to fill in information about where the child is born (even for abandoned cases) and if you do not have those necessary information or the parents details then you will face problems,” she said.
So with no way of proving where Suzie was born, she had to appeal at the NRD and Welfare Department and find people to testify and say “yes I was with Hartini when she found this baby”.
Even the doctor has to agree and say “yes the baby was two and a half months old when she found her and brought her in for a check-up”.
Without these witnesses obtaining the birth certificate is close to impossible. And that is just the first part towards getting a MyKid.
It’s been almost three years since Hariz (name changed) was adopted by a Malaysian couple in June 2010 when he was a newborn baby, but to date they cannot leave the country for holidays all because Hariz cannot obtain a MyKid and passport.
“We cannot travel at all because we don’t want to leave our son behind. We once tried going to Sarawak thinking that you don’t need a passport when traveling in Malaysia but apparently we do and we were detained at the airport,” said his mother who only wants to be known as Melinda.
Melinda and her husband, who have been trying to conceive ever since they got married 12 years ago, said they were lucky the officers let them through at the airport but told them that without an identification they can be charged for kidnapping a child.
But after much persuasion that the baby was abandoned when adopted and not kidnapped, they were allowed entry but told to leave Sarawak on the date stated on their return ticket.
Apart from having difficulties with airport officials, Melinda has also been kicked out of the National Registration Department (NRD) once or twice before because she refused to leave the premises after being told all waiting numbers had been given out at 2pm.
“I rushed there after lunch to see the officer regarding my son’s MyKid but they kicked me out, I was so furious because this was not the first time this had happened to me. I think I was very emotional then and I just refused to leave,” she said.
Melinda and her husband are both worried and anxious for their son because without an identity and citizenship, Hariz cannot enter kindergarten or get any medical benefits from the government.
For a year they have been pushed around by NRD, inconveniencing them by giving them wrong information every time they visit.
“They will give me a list of documents to prepare and bring, and when I do they tell me that it’s wrong and the list is outdated. This is crazy because both the visits were only one week apart. This has happened a few times that I get so frustrated I yell and scream at the officers,” she said.
To make matters worse, NRD wants to see documented proof that Hariz’s parents abandoned him and gave him away willingly to the adoptive parents.
Melinda and her husband do not have that proof because he was abandoned and the biological mother did not leave any documents behind.
Iza (name changed) was four days old when she was adopted about two and a half years ago. Last December, she finally got her MyKid after months of fighting with the NRD.
“Immediately we took her MyKid, made a passport and took her for a holiday somewhere to celebrate. It was also a break for us... after all the stress of fighting for so long,” said her father who only wants to be known as Ismail.
He recalled the painful process of being forced by the NRD to track down Iza’s birth parents, as the NRD wanted the biological parents’ original MyKad and a legal document which states the birth parents willingly gave this child up for adoption.
For months they were pushed around to the Welfare Department in Petaling Jaya to Klang and then to Petaling Jaya again and then when they finally got the area right, they were pushed from department to department.
“Every time we go they will tell us that we brought the wrong documents, despite the fact that we followed the list they gave us,” he said.
Ismail is also upset that the NRD officers did not take these cases seriously.
“I took a day off work to meet with the officers. They asked me when will I be free for an interview and I said now or even later in the day. They stared at me for the longest time not knowing what to say, and then told me sorry his boss is not free to meet with me,” he said.
However, with luck they managed to obtain a MyKid for Iza and he hopes other parents in the same boat as them will stay strong and keep fighting for their child.
“We were in fear because if anything happened to us and my daughter is still stateless then what is going to happen to her? We can’t even buy her education insurance or open a bank savings account for her,” he said.