KUCHING: Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah has slammed Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chairman Chong Chieng Jen for failing to understand the complexity of the citizenship application process.
The Sarawak welfare, community wellbeing, women, family and childhood development minister said the state-level special committee was set up to address the slow process of granting citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.
“Previously, some applications took about five years to be approved,” said Fatimah, who chaired the committee.
“Hence, the special committee was set up to expedite the process.
“We assist families by ensuring that the application sent is complete with all the relevant documents needed before submission to the Home Ministry.”
Fatimah was responding to Chong’s allegation that the Home Ministry’s decision to discontinue the state-level committee was due to its poor performance.
Chong had claimed that only 127 out of a total of 723 applications had been approved.
The committee was set up in 2016 under the previous Barisan Nasional government.
Fatimah said the Home Ministry and National Registration Department (NRD) had the final say on each application.
“So, our role is mainly in the application process.
“We don’t have the authority to approve or grant citizenship.”
She said the committee managed to speed up the process and applicants would know the results of their application within one or two years.
“So, it shows how ignorant Chong is of the process involved in the application and approval of citizenship.
“It’s not fair to say that the committee did not perform based on the number of approved cases,” she said.
On Monday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the committee was discontinued because the Federal Government did not want to burden the state government.
He said a special task force had been set up to address the application process under Article 15A.
He expressed his appreciation to Fatimah and welcomed the state ministers and party leaders to work with the Federal Government on the matter.