by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 26th March, 1992:
Can National Registration Department give an assurance that no blue identity-card holder applying for new identity card would be threatened with loss of citizenship because of spelling or clerical errors in old documents?
The National Registration Department’s Public Relations Officer, Rossilawati Alias, said yesterday that there has been no case of any person who had lost his citizenship when applying for new identity card, or having the blue identity card changed into red identity card.
Rossilawati Alias’ reply to my Seremban speech on Tuesday that the application for new identity cards by 15 million Malaysians have turned into a nightmare for many, does not really answer the important points that I had made.
I am prepared to accent Rossilawati Alias’ clarification that so far, there has not been a single case where a blue identity-card holder applying for new identity card had ended up losing his citizenship or having his blue identity card replaced by a red identi¬ty card because of spelling or clerical errors in old documents.
This is why in my Seremban speech I referred to the ‘threat’ of having a blue identity card turned into a red identity card because of spelling or, clerical errors in old documents.
Can the National Registration Department give an undertak¬ing there will be no such case among the 77,000 applications which had been held up by her department so far?
Can the National Registration Department give a iron-clad guarantee that there will never be any such case among all the 15 million blue identity-card holders when they apply for the new identi¬ty card in the next six years?
Rossilawati Alias said that the National Registration Department has no powers to deprive a person of his citizenship, as this is solely the prerogative of the Minister of Home Affairs.
Rossilawati Alias either does not what I meant or is delib¬erately trying to confuse the issue.
It is true that, only the Minister of Home Affairs has the power to deprive a person of his citizenship.
This is not the issue here. Of course, the National Regis¬tration Department cannot deprive the citizenship of anyone applying for a new identity card.
What the National Registration Department can do, however, is tell a blue-identity card holder that his blue identity card cannot be accepted or recognised, because of spelling or clerical errors in his supporting documents, such as birth certificate, citizenship certificate and even citizenship papers of his parents who may have passed away for many decades. If the person concerned cannot rectify these mistakes in the very old documents, then he would forfeit his blue identity-card status.
The National Registration Department can claim that it, is not depriving a person of his citizenship,
but flushing out those who are not entitled to hold blue identity cards (and therefore had never been citizens) in the first place.
This is just a play of words to the ordinary men and women in the street. All they know is that when
this happens to them, and their blue identity cards are, not accepted or recognised by the Na¬tional Registration Department, then it tantamounts to their loss of citizenshp when their blue, identity cards
are withdrawn and replaced with a red identity card.
Is the National Registration Department prepared to issue a formal guarantee that in the present process
of introducing the new identity cards, no blue identity card holder will end up as a red identity card
holder because of spelling or clerical errors in old documents, which he would, have difficulty in correcting because they are decades-old?
Rossilawati Alias said that she hoped that the public would not be frightened by ‘baseless allegations’ from applying for the new identity cards.
The National Registration Department should know that if it could not give a clear-cut assurance that
no blue identity card holder would face the threat of his status being changed into a red identity card holder, because of spelling or clerical errors in old documents, then it would be the biggest reason frightening the people from apply¬ing for the new identity cards.