Wrong move wipes out identity

23 May 2010

Wrong move wipes out identity

PHILIP Choong Kim Hoong rides a bicycle to work every day. The hawker has to make the one kilometre trip three or four times a day from his house. If it rains, his goods will get wet and if it pours, he has to take the day off.

When the weather is bad, he wishes he had a car, but that is wishful thinking. He can't get a driving licence because he does not possess an identity card or MyKad.

Choong, 28, may have a Chinese name but he is actually Indian. He was adopted at birth by a Chinese family who listed themselves as birth parents in his birth certificate.

It is for this very reason that the National Registration Department confiscated his birth certificate when he applied for an identity card at the age of 12.

Life on hold: Choong's replacement birth certificate has no details of his adoptive parents.

He was given a replacement birth certificate without details of his adoptive parents. He has since tried applying for an identity card but has been turned down countless times.

Not having personal official documentation affects his mobility and peace of mind. Whenever he sees a road block or the police, he fears the worst. He was stopped by the police once and was questioned for two hours for not having his MyKad with him.

“My friends had to explain my situation to the policemen a few times before they eventually let me go,” he says.

Frustrating situation

Choong hasn't been able to open a bank account or apply for a passport either. This has been frustrating, to say the least.

“I am a Malaysian but I feel like I have been left at the side of the road,” he says.

He has also had to hide his relationship with his girlfriend of four years from her family.

“I haven't told her family because I am scared that they would not accept someone who can only ride a bicycle,” he says.

Cheong Soo Theng, 16, is in the same boat. When she went to apply for a MyKad four years ago, she was told that her birth certificate contained false information and was confiscated.

Her mother Choo Lei Kuan, 63, says her husband who passed away 10 years ago is the only person who could shed light on how the birth certificate was obtained.

“Everything has been difficult. She can't go to school and she only stays at home,” says Choo who is suffering from Parkinson's disease.

Cheong was forced to quit school when she was 13. She fell into depression and tried to commit suicide three times.

But things are looking up with Bertam Rukun Tetangga chairman Tan Swee Kong coming in to help her with her documentation.

“She has been stopped by the police but luckily they let her go. But since then, she has been fearful of going out,” he says.

Two months ago, Tan helped Cheong to submit an application to the NRD to get a birth certificate. He also helped Choo with the adoption process, although it is still pending with the NRD.

Tan also tried to enrol Cheong in a private school but she was not accepted because of her status