Kota Kinabalu: The United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) on Friday demanded that the National Registration Department (NRD) undo its mistake of turning a Sabahan Bumiputra into a Permanent Resident.
Its Deputy President Datuk Seri Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing said what had happened to 78-year-old Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin, a Sino-Kadazan, was simply outrageous and warrants Upko seriously reviewing its position in the Barisan Nasional if found to be not just an isolated case.
"How can this happen to a Malaysian citizen who was born here and holding a Native Certificate to prove her citizenship," he said.
He said that if the NRD had committed a genuine mistake, it should have reverted Yong's new status back to a Malaysian citizen right away.
"If the department had purposely committed the atrocious act, they must undo its gross mistake," he said, adding it is sending a bad signal across the nation, particularly to genuine citizens.
"Illegal immigrants can easily acquire MyKads that subsequently enable them to purchase Native Title (NT) lands.
"What is happening with the NRD? This is totally unacceptable. And if this is the tip of the iceberg, I'm afraid we cannot guarantee protection to the genuine citizens," he said.
He said if the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government is not willing to look into this matter as well as into how illegal immigrants could mysteriously acquire Malaysian Identity Cards, Upko will take up the matter and fight for the people.
"If the NRD or government has no satisfactory answer, I strongly urge Upko to seriously review its position in the BN because an identification document is a very important matter as it shows their sense of belonging."
Bumburing said if the NRD is unable to handle Yong's case, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar must intervene.
Yong's life had been turned upside down as a result of the NRD oversight and incompetence.
Her nightmare began when she lost her IC at a Supermarket at Penampang Baru on Feb. 12.
On the same day, she lodged a police report and subsequently on Feb 26, applied for a replacement IC at the NRD office in Donggongon.
After several months, she went and collected her replacement IC at the NRD office and was given a red IC.
She asked the officer why it was red and the lady officer said for senior citizens who lost their IC, the department normally replaced them with red ICs.
She didn't find anything amiss with the officer's explanation until she reached home when her children said red ICs were issued to people with Permanent Resident status.
With the help of her children, they brought the matter up with the NRD together with supporting documents such as her Native Certificate that was issued by the Native Court on Sept 24, 1963, bank books and passport.
The NRD officer admitted there could have been an error but instead of rectifying it, Yong was asked to "apply for Malaysian citizenship" which she duly complied by submitting an application form to the office on July 2, last year.
Her problem did not end there because soon after, her bank accounts at Amanah Saham Nasional and Alliance Bank were frozen making her unable to withdraw money for her daily expenses.
Fluent in Kadazan and Chinese, the mother of seven sons and one daughter can no longer travel outside the country as she could not renew her expired passport.
Strangely, she was allowed to cast her vote at Peak Nam Thong Kindergarten during the recent Mar 8 general elections using her driving licence as identity document since her record in the polling list was still intact.
But her identification records at the Immigration Department, however, had completely "disappeared".
Everywhere Yong goes now, she only uses her driving licence as proof of identity because she is too embarrassed with her predicament.
She now feared that her "new status" would have serious repercussion on her sons and daughter.
Resource Development and Information Technology Assistant Minister, Donald Peter Mojuntin who helped highlight Yong's case, said if it could happen to her, the children's citizenship could also be withdrawn.
"There has never been a case like this before when genuine Malaysians had their citizenship cancelled. If this can happen to her, it can happen to anybody (Malaysians)," he said.
As Upko Bureau Chief for Citizenship and Security, the Moyog Assemblyman said he would be pursuing the matter with Sabah NRD Director and also with the Home Minister.
He said that for the NRD to admit their mistake and then asking Yong to reapply for citizenship is simply illogical.