PKR adviser Anwar Ibrahim said the longstanding problem of stateless residents would be solved within a month should Pakatan Rakyat take over the federal government at the 13th general election.

NONESpeaking at a rally in Taman Kuchai in the parliamentary constituency of Padang Serai in Kedah last night, Anwar prefaced the announcement of a deadline for the problem's solution with his standard reiteration that there would be no compromise over such issues as the Malay language's primacy and the alleviation of Malay poverty.

Often, Anwar reassures the Malays in his audience that the Malay language's importance to national unity and their economic advancement are issues that would not be jeopardised by Pakatan's solicitude for the travails of non-Malays.

In the latter category, the plight of stateless residents, the majority of whom are Indians, has in the last year bulked large in the ledger of Pakatan's concerns that the opposition coalition has indicated would come in for prompt and surgical rectification once it takes power.

How quick that rectification would be was announced by Anwar to a predominantly Malay audience in the final ceramah of a five-stop swing through Perlis and Kedah yesterday.

"NONEWe'll make them citizens within a month of taking over Putrajaya," said Anwar, after he had emphasised that Pakatan required all who are citizens to be able to speak the Malay language.

Like he did before a well-attended Deepavali gathering in Taman Puteri Wangsa in Tebrau (Johor) last Saturday, Anwar said that it was not as if these stateless residents had only the other day stepped off a flight from Chennai in India.

"They have been born and bred here and they deserve to be recognised as citizens," he asserted.

Some natives also stateless

In the past year, PKR has spearheaded the drive to ferret and legitimise the status of thousands of long-time residents in the country who are without citizenship papers.

The vast majority of the stateless, whose numbers are conjectured to be range between 200,000 and 300,000, are Indians.

However, in recent months, it has come to light that a not inconsiderable number of Dayaks and Kadazan people in the remote villages of Sarawak and Sabah are also affected by the problem of statelessness.

The NONEdrive to obtain for them citizenship by operation of the law has been led by party vice-president N Surendran (right in photo), who is in the midst of garnering support for a demonstration by the stateless at the National Registration Department on Dec 12.

Anwar reiterated that Surendran, who also spoke at the Taman Kuchai and Puteri Wangsa rallies, would be the PKR candidate for Padang Serai - a seat won by PKR's N Gobalakrishnan in the 2008 election but who subsequently left the party to become a BN-supporting independent.