Indians among 92 given Malaysian citizenship after 20-year wait


Kuala Lumpur : The long wait of over two decades has ended for 92 people, many of them ethnic Indians, who were granted Malaysian citizenship as part of the government’s drive to cut the backlog.

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Some openly wept, while others hugged each other in joy at the presentation ceremony held in conjunction with Malaysia Day at the national registration department Wednesday.

Vikram Sivapragasam, 29, will now be able to send his two seven-year-old twin girls — Lavinya and Nikita — to school.

“My wife Maria, a Russian, and I have been home-tutoring them and we’re just so excited that we can send them to school now,” he told The Star newspaper after the ceremony.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein who handed over the citizenship certificates, received hugs from many.

The minister, who has been spearheading the drive to clear the 32,927 backlog in citizenship applications, shared their joy and gave them some advice.

“Thousands of people have applied for citizenship, some have even waited for 20 years to become a Malaysian (citizen). It shows how special this country is. So please help to maintain our unity and harmony,” he told the new citizens.

“I will not deny there are implications on the government in awarding citizenships — be it financial or administrative.

“But we accept one’s reasons to become a Malaysian positively.”

Thousands of ethnic Indians and Chinese were either illiterate or unaware of registration processes when Malaysia became free in 1957.

Malaysia is a multi-racial society of majority Malay Muslims, with a significant population of ethnic Chinese and Indians. The Indians form nearly eight percent of the 28 million population.