Malaysia - Stateless or in a stateless-like situation


UNHCR will manage activities in the area of statelessness from its office in Kuala Lumpur. The development of a small statelessness unit within the protection section with at least three protection staff would ensure the development and implementation of a cohesive strategy to eradicate statelessness for all populations of concern in Malaysia. This would include the protection officers working with key Malaysian Government ministries, civil society and populations of concern to develop a multi-year strategy to eradicate statelessness and activities to implement the strategy.

Additionally a formal mapping study of each population of concern and the NGOs and Malaysian Government agencies that work with such populations would assist the Office to understand the ambit of the issue of statelessness in Malaysia and support the development of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate statelessness. Specifically, the following activities are being planned:

  • Support the Special Implementation Task Force (SITF) to run a further citizenship campaign on peninsular Malaysia to provide documentation to all remaining undocumented populations of Tamil/Indian origin (who have inter-generational links with Malaysia);
  • Support the National Registration Department to coordinate a birth registration campaign, in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, especially in remote areas, with the aim of registering all births in Malaysia;
  • Run further workshops to engage the Government of Malaysia on protection issues for stateless populations and populations at risk of statelessness, in response to feedback received from participants (who were government officials from key Malaysian Government ministries) following UNHCR Malaysia’s workshop on civil registration and documentation in January 2014;
  • Develop the capacity of NGOs to assist populations of concern in Malaysia to apply for relevant identity documentation and bring awareness to the importance of documentation amongst populations of concern.

In addition, further resources to support NGOs to engage with the Government of Malaysia on statelessness issues in Malaysia. This would include running capacity building workshops for NGOs, supporting projects run by NGOs which focus on educating communities on the importance of documentation and the process for applying for documentation, and to publish public information on the ambit of Malaysian nationality law and the processes for applying for identity documentation; hire a consultant to 1) develop a strategy to overcome the inconsistent application of Malaysian nationality law by the National Registration Department and Department of Immigration which can result in statelessness, and 2) develop a strategy for engaging with the Government of Malaysia on the discriminatory practices with regard to birth registration for non-nationals and children born out of wedlock.