Stateless stage sit-in in Ipoh registration officePKR’s campaign on behalf of the stateless entered a phase resembling the civil rights struggle in the United States when some 300 people staged a sit-in at the Ipoh Registration Department this morning.
The sit-in crowd was composed of about 100 stateless people from Ipoh and surrounding areas, while the rest were Pakatan Rakyat activists from the opposition’s three component parties - PKR, DAP, and PAS.
Sit-ins were a renowned tactic of the civil rights movement in the United States in the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s to force the desegregation of restaurants and public facilities in the South.
The sit-in in Ipoh this morning failed to achieve its objective of kick starting the legalisation process for the stateless but it did gain a minor concession.
It compelled the director of the Registration Department, who initially refused to have anything to do with the crowd, to come down from his office on the upper floors and discuss matters with the leaders of the campaign.
However, even this concession by Alias Mamat was rendered nugatory when he walked out of a discussion with PKR vice-president N Surendran, who is leading the campaign to legitimise the stateless.
Surendran was accompanied by deposed Perak menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin, DAP vice-chairman and Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, PKR Perak chief Mohd Nor Manuty, PKR central leadership council member Lateefah Koya, PKR state assemblyperson Chang Lih Kang, and N Sivakumar, the DAP state legislator and ousted Perak state assembly speaker.
Stateless to rally in Putrajaya
Surendran said Alias’ insistence that the stateless apply for citizenship under articles 16 and 17 of the constitution was the sticking point in the discussion that saw him walk off in a huff.
“Articles 16 and 19 apply to foreigners wanting to be citizens,” argued Surendran, a lawyer with a long record of human rights advocacy.
“The stateless here are people who were born and have lived in Malaysia all their lives and should be legalised under Article 12 of the constitution,” he asserted.
Surendran, who has headed the PKR campaign on behalf of the stateless, said the next stage was to gather as many of the stateless, whose numbers he estimates as between 200,000 to 300,000, at Putrajaya to press their cause for legalisation.