by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 27th March 1992:
Call on MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers to ask for a Cabinet decision next Wednesday that in the change to new identity cards, no citizen will be reduced to a red identity-card status because of spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents.
The MCA Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ong Ka Ting, is trying to evade the problems faced by mil¬lions of Malaysians in the introduction of the new identity card by claiming that the National Registration Department had never and had no powers to deprive a Malaysian of his citizenship.
It is most regrettable that instead of helping to solve the people’s many problems arising from the introduction of the new identity cards, Ong Ka Ting is talking as a typical ‘bureaucrat’.
Can Ong Ka Ting give a firm assurance on behalf of the Government and the MCA that when applying for a new identity card, not a single Malaysian citizen will have his blue identity card changed into a red identity card because of spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents such as his birth certificate, citizenship certificate or his parents’ citizenship papers?
Ong Ka Ting has failed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Ministry in not resolving grave problems before introduction of new identity cards.
If Ong Ka Ting cannot give this assurance, then he has failed as Parliamentary Secretary to the Home Minister in getting this problem resolved before allowing the National Registration Department to carry out the new identity card exercise.
The DAP regards it as most unfair, unjust and unacceptable that a Malaysian citizen for twenty, thirty or forty years should face the prospect of the loss of his citizenship – because in the change to new identity cards, he could not correct some spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents like his birth or citizenship certifi¬cate or the documents of his parents who may have since been long-deceased.
Ong Ka Ting of course can say that in these cases, it is not the National Registration Department which had withdrawn or deprived them of their citizenship, but because these people could not prove that they were entitled to be blue-identity card holders in the first place and that they were in fact never Malaysian citizens.
Ong Ka Ting may find such explanation very smug and satis¬factory but to those who find that the blue identity cards have become red identity cards, they are not going to be grateful to Ong Ka Ting or MCA for such ‘legal niceties’.
I do not believe that Ong Ka Ting would dare to give a guarantee that in changing to the new identity card, no citizen would have his blue identity card changed into a red identity card because of spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents.
If the National Registration Department is ‘interested’ only in changing the identity cards to a new format, then it should accept the blue identity cards it had issued in the past as final and conclu¬sive proof for this purpose without requiring the production of sup¬porting decades-old documents.
Even if every Malaysian citizen is asked to produce these decades old documents, there should be no requirement that they should be corrected if there is spelling or clerical error.
Isn’t it clear and obvious that citizens who could not get the spelling or clerical errors in the decades-old documents corrected will not get the new identity card, and therefore revert to the status of a non-citizen?
If Ong Ka Ting is unable to instantly and publicly give a guarantee that no citizen would have his blue identity card changed into red identity card because of spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents, then Ong Ka Ting should not try to be hero justifying all the unfair and unjust rules and regulations of the National Registration Department.
DAP calls on the MCA, Gerakan and MIC Ministers to ask for a Cabinet decision next Wednesday that in the change to new identity cards, no citizen will nave his position reverted to a ‘non-citizen’, and his blue identity card changed to red identity card, because of spelling or clerical errors in decades-old documents which he had difficulty or find it impossible to correct.
I note that Ong Ka Ting had confessed that different officers of National Registration Department (NRD) have different inter¬pretations of various documents. As a result, the victims are the ordinary men and women in the street who ‘go round in circles’ from one NRD officer to another.
What has Ong Ka Ting as Parliamentary Secretary of Home Ministry done to ensure that all NRD counter-clerks and officials have only one uniform interpretation for the same document?
Ong Ka Ting has done nothing. He only asked the people to refer to the MCA – which means an extra layer of inconvenience and hassle for the people. A responsible Parliamentary Secretary would get the NRD officers to have a streamlined and uniform interpretation of all documents, but then, Ong Ka Ting dare not even think of trying to do such a thing to impose some discipline on NRD officers.
DAP sets up National Blue I/Cs Committee under Dr. Tan Seng Giaw to highlight injustices and inefficiences of the new identity card exercise.
DAP takes a very grave view, of the failure of Ong Ka Ting as Parliamentary Secretary to deal with
these policy implications of the introduction of the new identity card, as well as the gross inef-ficiency associated with the exercise causing unnecessary hardships to the people.
The DAP has set up a DAP National Blue I/Cs committee under the chairmanship of the DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, to highlight the injustices and inefficiencies of the new identity card exercise and to get them removed.
As a start, DAP calls on the National Registration Department to suspend the new identity card exercise until all these injustices and inefficiencies are identified and removed.