|"Let's show Najib the real meaning of nambikei (trust)," Nurul Izzah Anwar with some 200 elderly Indians outside Parliament gates yesterday carrying Najib's red Mykads|
About 200 Indian Malaysians gathered at the gates of Parliament today, demanding that their statelessness be resolved and called on the Najib Abdul Razak administration to immediately tackle the problem that is also faced by some 300,000 others.
They intended to submit a memorandum to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, but it was instead received by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, since no government representative came to meet the group.
The crowd carried a banner that said Najib zalimi masyarakat (Najib has wronged the community).
They also carried mock-ups of a permanent resident's identity card with Najib's profile and chanted, Najib, Najib! Turun padang! (Najib, Najib! Come to the ground!).
Many of them also held out their red (permanent resident's) identity cards as they waited outside the gates of Parliament.
As a result, they have been denied benefits from the Social Security Organisation (Socso) and the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), among other things.
To deny these people their citizenship because they lack birth certificates is a "pathetic excuse", said PKR vice-president N Surendran, who coordinated the group.
"They can check other sources, such as hospital records," Surendran said, adding that proving these stateless Indian Malaysians were born in the country alone should be sufficient.
He said many of the Indian Malaysians had taken their problem to the court, but did not see any positive outcome to their applications for citizenship.
Stressing that the community had a right to citizenship under the federal constitution, he expressed confidence that a fair court would rule in their favour.
Raising the fact that many foreigners in Sabah had very easily obtained citizenship, Surendran questioned why it was so difficult to do the same for these people who were Malaysian-born.
"They can naturalise foreigners, yet they cannot do the same for these (Indian Malaysians) because they are unsure where they were born?" he asked, ridiculing the double-standard of the government.
Several other PKR leaders from Parliament also visited the gathering outside, including party vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar and MP for Subang R Sivarasa.
But she encouraged the crowd to stand their ground against the administration, shouting, "This is your country, your birthplace!"
"Let's show Najib the real meaning of nambikei (trust)," Nurul Izzah added.
Surendran gave the government 48 hours to settle the citizenship problems of the Indian Malaysians present, as their details were attached to the memorandum that was passed on.
He also called on the government to identify the rest of the 300,000 stateless Indian Malaysians and to resolve the issue within a month, threatening more protests otherwise.
Chastising the government for not sending any representative to meet with the group, he warned that "this is the beginning of a new movement for dispossessed (Indian Malaysians)".
Laid off workers also protest
A second, smaller group of about 30 former employees of telecommunications provider Time Dot Com also gathered at the gates of Parliament to protest against the company.
The group, led by Haron Hamim, demanded compensation for being wrongfully terminated, within a year of being transferred to a subsidiary company, Paycomm Networks Sdn Bhd.
Haron said many of the workers were already over 40 years and were hard-pressed to find new jobs, adding that many of them had seen their marriages and children's education compromised as a result of being jobless.
Their gathering outside Parliament was the fifth protest the former Time DotCom workers have held over the past year. They had previously sent a memorandum to the prime minister and met with Human Resources Minister Dr S Subramaniam, but to no avail.
Expressing his hope that the government would take action to help them, Haron said the government should truly "put the people first", echoing Najib's "people first, performance now" slogan.