MIRI, Aug 22 ― The Penan Empowerment Networking Association (Pena) is calling upon the federal government to reinstate the National Registration Department (JPN)’s Special Mobile Unit (UKB) slated for helping the rural communities register for their citizenship.
In this regard, Pena founder and president Elia Bit said she was appalled by the discontinuation of the UKB, and that all applications for citizenship must be done at the JPN counter in the Urban Transformation Centre (UTC) in Miri.
“This is really a burden for the rural natives to attain citizenship, including the financial and physical burdens that they have to bear to travel to Miri,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Elia said since the establishment of Pena in 2018, the non-governmental organisation (NGO) had been working closely with the UKB in reaching out to the rural communities such as the Penans and also some Ibans who were without proper documentation on their citizenship status.
“It’s a painstaking process, yet UKB had been doing it wonderfully and with patience.
“It’s also meant to help the rural communities, the majority of whom are not well-off financially.”
Elia pointed out that thanks to UKB, dozens of applicants finally received their birth certificates and also MyKads.
“In Pena’s records, we have 231 applications that were done through UKB and are now pending (approval).
“I was also told that recently, several applicants who had applied via UKB brought their receipts to (the JPN counter at) UTC Miri as proof of application ― only to be told that there was no record of their applications.”
Elia also called upon all MPs from Sarawak to address this issue during the Parliament sitting, in the hope that this would gain more attention from federal government and make them aware of the real scenario faced by the rural communities in Sarawak.
“Pena was established with the intention of helping the rural communities address and deal with their problems.
“Over the past two years, we have approached no less than 32 long houses across Baram and we intend to continue doing this for as long as possible.
“However, without the special taskforce (UKB), it’s quite difficult for us to continue doing this work,” said Elia. ― Borneo Post