Vexing delay for thousands seeking citizenship

This is from Malaysian Insider quoting the Straits Times of Singapore ( also available in The Korean Herald):

Vexing delay for thousands seeking citizenship

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Malek Ali recently lost two staff members of the radio station he runs for a reason he sees as unnecessary.

One was an Australian radio station engineer and the other was the man’s Malaysian wife. The couple returned to Australia after the husband could not renew his work permit.

“These are good people. He was among the best in his field,” Malek said. “He and his wife are now contributing to the Australian economy.”

That was a stark contrast to his own experience — in Singapore.

In 2000, he became a permanent resident there, while working for the Singapore operations of a Malaysian company. Six months later, he was asked if he wanted to apply for citizenship.

He did not. He came back to start the BFM radio station, but without his family. He felt it was better for them to continue living across the Causeway. He commutes every weekend to Singapore.

Malek’s stories tell a succinct tale of the double whammy Malaysia is facing in the global grab for talent. Its citizens are being wooed by other countries, while its labyrinthine process of applying for permanent residence or even work permits drives away those who might want to stay.

This is not a new story. But it came to the forefront last week when complaints poured out on Internet forums after the Home Ministry held a high-profile exercise to award citizenships to 92 people.

The 92 were among the 33,000 “stateless” persons in the country. Most of them were born in Malaysia, but did not have legal papers as their births were never registered or the papers lost.

Among them was Leong Chwee Chun, 64. She had waited 36 years after her papers were lost during the Japanese Occupation.

But many of the best-qualified of these “stateless” residents have not stayed. Some left long ago, frustrated with inconclusive outcomes of their applications.

Plain-speaking Gerakan politician Dr Hsu Dar Ren tells of a former classmate who did not have citizenship, even though he was born in pre-independence Malaya, because his mother did not apply for it then.

The classmate was consistently top in his class and was later offered a scholarship to study in Singapore, where he became a citizen after graduating as an engineer. No one could blame him.

“The brain drain is really one of the biggest problems in Malaysia today, and this sort of thing does not help,” said Dr Hsu.

The citizenship ceremony was held with pomp last week to showcase the Home Ministry’s pledge to clear the backlog of applications by the year end. It has already processed 70 per cent of the 32,927 outstanding applications for citizenship, 16,812 for permanent residency and 93,360 cases of late registration of births.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein did not say how many of the applications were successful.

Malaysia’s difficulty in retaining talent has become more acute as the government tries to lift the economy up and out of the low-cost, low-wages model. It needs to replace brawn with brains.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had asked the government’s Economic Council for a new economic model to emphasise innovation and creativity.

But as Malaysians like Malek have noted, this requires being more efficient about keeping talent. The Malaysian process is opaque and convoluted and the delays are legendary.

Many have complained that they are kept in the dark about the criteria — unlike countries such as Australia, which uses a clear points system.

There is widespread belief that much hinges on what Dr Hsu describes as “a numbers game”. In a country where race is linked to power, the racial balance is always part of the consideration.

It may not be an official policy, but there are scores of stories that hint of unspoken racial considerations.

But as it has been pointed out, even if they number in the thousands, new immigrants will hardly change Malaysia’s demography.

“The demographic trend clearly shows that the major ethnic group is going to form a bigger and bigger proportion of the total population as time goes on,” said Dr Hsu.

The pledge to clear the huge backlog — which is part of the Home Ministry’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) — is welcomed, but it will not go very far as long as the process itself is not reformed.

Management-style KPIs may focus on statistics, but not necessarily the right decisions.

“They can easily say ‘no’ to everyone and meet the KPI,” said Malek. “But we haven’t done what is needed — provide a clear policy, transparency and speed.” — The Straits Times



Please read my article on this issue:  A most frustrating hassle.


22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. klm
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 14:33:13

    Dr. Hsu. What is your reaction to this “Plain-speaking Gerakan politician Dr Hsu Dar Ren …..”

    The Gerakan politician part. 🙂


  2. Dr Hsu
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 14:52:38

    Thanks for alerting me about this article.

    The definition of an online dictionary outs it as:

    “One who holds or seeks a political office.”

    Another definition is this:
    ” One who seeks personal or partisan gain, often by scheming and maneuvering”

    I look at myself, since I do not seek political office, and do not seeks personal gain, and i never scheme or maneuvre, I do not fit in the definition and hence i am not a politician. I am just a social worker who happens to be a member of a political party. 🙂


  3. A true Malaysian
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 15:19:02

    BN leaders are blind with opening eyes, if they are still ignorant ……

    When PR takes over Federal, will they blind with opening eyes as well?

    I hope not. Dr. Hsu, your views are well received. If not, Straits Times will not mention your article. It’s proven you can be influential with no scheming and maneuvering.

    Scheming and maneuvering, even one succeeded, will back fire. What goes around, comes around.

    We need politicians like you. Existing politicians need to learn from you.



  4. Gerakan member
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 15:25:39

    The description ‘plain talking’ rules him out as a politician.

    But I do hope there are more social political worker type like Dr Hsu in all the political parties. Then politics will not be so dirty!.

    An admirer from Gerakan


  5. Meng
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 15:31:09

    We have plenty of mediocre professors, Phds. and cukup makan graduate sitting in high office. The problem..they are not accorded the respect they needed and often are being belittled and made fun of..laughing at their performances. Don’t you think they felt humiliated.

    The only way is to let the brain drain continue and no PR or citizenship for the professional ..indirectly forcing them to migrate.
    Fill the vacuum with low rated workers from bangla, indon and from mindanao and these people would look up to those mediocre as intellectual and finally receive the respect much needed…see the whole pic.

    A true story told to me by a teacher. There were complains by pupils “che’gu dia orang semua pandai ta boleh masuk kelas ini. Nanti ta boleh dapat nomber satu”” Those Students were transfered out to another class.

    Very funny isn’t it..this is happening to the whole country.


  6. clearwater
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 15:48:58

    Some recorded excuses from the mouth of an ex Home Minister regarding the slow processing of citizenship/permanent applications :

    ‘Citizenship/permanent residence is a privilege, not a right, to be granted to spouses of Malaysian citizens..

    ‘We have to be very careful in screening such applications, we do not want to let in undesirable elements who can be a danger to our society…

    No prizes for guessing correctly who that clown was. It was’nt that long ago.


  7. Meng
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 16:15:28

    You are more than a social worker. You have been speaking up on politics in this blog and in other sites, a political activist I should say but not one that goes on stage to say your piece.

    Writing in presenting your thoughts can get lots of things done. It is an effective tool….Pen is mightier than the sword…

    But there are two types of writers.

    One that writes on the flaws, in finding faults and weakness, comdemn, assassinate characters and create ill feelings or hatred between the one who plans/implement and the public at large. He does not provides ideas or recommendation. This is a negative type.

    The other writes on the weakness , where the fault lies and provides imput or recommendations how to overcome such weaknesses for the betterment of society. This is more positive nature that one should choose. It creates a better atmoshere in Checks and Balance. After such time when they are known of their abilities, they are invited to participate in planning.


  8. Dr Hsu
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 16:22:44


    i also would like to quote RPK on this. He says:

    “Many ask me why I refuse to go into active politics. I try to tell to these people that I am not a politician but a political activist. Most do not appear to understand the difference. I try to explain it as simply as I can. A politician seeks power. A political activist seeks change. I seek change, not power. So I am a political activist, not a politician.”

    I am not in the same league as him, but I do seek cahnge and do not seek power. So although I am no where near RPK (he is a giant fish and I am a small fry), I think I should also qualified to be an activist, maybe just a social political activist.


  9. pilocarpine
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 17:11:11

    to change something, power is the main ingredient.


  10. A true Malaysian
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 17:23:36

    I admire both you and RPK. Both of you are right for not seeking for power and position, that is why you don’t regard yourself as ‘Politician’ and RPK as ‘Political Activist’.

    But, even then, definition can be re-defined as if everyone of us perceive ‘Politician’ as someone ‘manipulative’, ‘dirty’, ‘power crazy’, ‘schemer’,…. then, why should we leave the governing job to such kind of people, knowing their characters as such? No wonder, the DVD actor still thinking it is alright for him to lead, and still got MCA members supporting him.

    Having said that, we should not have such perception on the definition of a politician as I personally opined that there are many politicians in PR that not of such character. It is unfair to define them what you and RPK perceived.

    Of course, I respect yours and RPK’s rights to chose what type of lifestyle you prefer.

    If is fair to perceive if a politician in power for long time, malpractices, inefficiency, power crazy seep in, as we can see with our own eyes. That’s is why it is important to restrict the term of powerful positions and let the real democracy thrives. You and RPK are premier choice in this, and I am sure, both you will not hold on power for long time. Five years tenure is perfect, not too short, not too long.


  11. A true Malaysian
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 17:56:56

    Tok Guru Nik Aziz is a good example of a good politician. He is in power as MB and PAS spiritual leaders for 20 over years, yet, he is leading a simple life. Power and material wealth are not the criteria for him to be a politician. I once met someone in East Coast, a casual check with him proved that Tok Guru is highly respected. Can we say that to politicians in Umno, MCA, MIC, Gerakan …..?

    Think about this, you and RPK can be like Tok Guru Nik Aziz.


  12. Ketuanan Cina
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 19:36:20

    WHY live in a country that doesn’t want YOU!!!!!!!

    “You cannot choose the country you are born in, But YOU can choose the country YOU want to live in (i agree, not everyone though)”

    If you can leave, LEAVE…….


    Embrace the segregation that is part of the country, DON’T Complain……. If YOU wish to complain, leave…… If YOU wish to remain, speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil.

    The people in the Corridors of Power has mentioned numerous times that “If you are not happy, then Immigrate (source: Rafidah A.).

    The question to all of you complainers are “WHY ARE YOU STILL THERE????”

    The answer YOU seek is “Leave, Leave, Leave….”

    If enough of you leave (fast enough), the people in the corridors of power (one day in the very near future) will have no choice but to recall and embrace all.

    Cheers everyone……..


  13. Ketuanan Cina
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 19:45:53

    Ask yourself this Question ” Why would a non – bumi return, when their future is limited by quota’s???

    example, You can be the most brilliant returning, non – Bumi, Oil and Gas expert in any of the Major Oil & Gas Company (ie. Shell, BP, Chevron ect.), YOU will never be allowed to head a major division or be a CEO in Petronas.


    Ask yourself this Question ” Why would a non – bumi return, when their future is limited by quota’s???


  14. Meng
    Sep 28, 2009 @ 21:42:09

    I was told by a retired non bumi there is a chinese man holding the post of vice president in petronas. Correct me if I am wrong.


  15. Meng
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 00:17:48

    No names mentioned, when malacca oil refinery was doing badly with lots of rubbish, a chinese was brought in as the GM to put things right. Now this guy is in the petronas HQ holding a reputable position .

    Please find out more????


  16. clearwater
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 05:01:17

    The 2 non-bumi VPs in Petronas are

    George Ratilal VP Finance
    Colin Wong VP Research & Technology


  17. Ketuanan Cina
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 08:12:28

    Elementary Watson….

    Well done to Colin & George….. Hooray…..

    Now guys, Petronas has 231 companies (directly and indirectly), go list down the number of companies that is controlled/managed by a local-NON.

    While you are at it, how many GLC’s and Government agencies are headed by Local-NON?

    I bet you it’s not even 5%.

    And you are proud of this???

    God bless America!


  18. Rhan
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 09:01:36

    KC, don’t write nonsense, it didn’t help. Move your arse wherever you like. No one beg you to stay. Bye.


  19. A true Malaysian
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 09:09:42

    All things boil down to ‘Will’. There is a will, there is a way.

    Many people are in high position of GLC, but they have no will to make GLC better since their perks are there, gaji buta. Failed, failed lah, G will bail you out, why worry?

    This is the kind of mentality.


  20. A true Malaysian
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 11:05:15

    Concern: I am away from the country for some time, but keep track of current affairs. As a Chinese I used to have negative thoughts of PAS who rule Kelantan but not now. If I am to vote for the prime minister of Malaysia, I will vote for (PAS spiritual leader and Kelantan MB) Nik Aziz Nik Mat as he is one of the last good men in politics.

    The above statement by “Concern” is a testimony to what I commented. Nik Aziz is a good politician. Who says a “politician” must be shrewd to survive?


  21. Meng
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 11:28:40

    Racial problems exist practically in all countires and US has a fair share of it. The National Urban League’s reported blacks racial inequities in employment, housing, education, criminal justice, health. Google National Urban league you will have more stories of discrimination in U.S.

    Recently the american civil league union(ACLU) also reported to the UN panel of racial discrimination in US. highlighting that the U.S. authorities continue to discriminate and victimize people based on color

    god bless america


  22. Rhan
    Sep 29, 2009 @ 12:29:59

    I give my vote to PAS for the past five elections since I become a eligible voter. I don’t trust any political party and any politician. I believe only in check and balance, and choose a relatively clean and capable leader.

    Is Tok Guru good in term of moral? I think yes at this point of time, but Kelantan is not Selangor. Is Tok Guru good in term of capability? I think no at this point of time, Kelantan was never as develop as Selangor.


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