SIBU: Mohammad Aidill Maula Hamdan has always wanted to be a teacher. With 3As and a B for a 3.59 grade point average in his STPM, he applied to do a degree in teacher training at Sultan Idris Education University, Perak.

There was only one problem –he was stateless.

Mohammad Aidill, 19, has been applying for citizenship since 2016.

Thankfully, it has now been approved by the National Registration Department and he can go on to achieve his dream.

The University of Technology Sarawak in Sibu has also given him a conditional offer to do his studies there.

Mohammad Aidil collected his citizenship documents from state Women, Early Childhood, and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah yesterday.

“I am very thankful to the registration department and also to Datuk Seri Fatimah for helping me secure the citizenship,” said an elated Mohammad Aidill, the eldest of seven offspring.

Coming from a poor family – his father Hamdan Mohamad, 46, is a fisherman in Matu – Mohammad Aidill said being stateless was a huge burden on his family as, unlike other children, he had to pay for his primary and secondary school education.

“When I was in SK SibuJaya, I had to pay RM120 yearly for school fees; RM240 a year for the secondary school fees in SMK Matu; the SPM exam fee of RM237; and another RM237 for each semester in Form 6; as well as the STPM exam fee of RM240 at SMK Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Hjh Normah,” he said.

He scored As in Geography, Accounting and Bahasa Malaysia and got a B for his general paper in the STPM 2021.

Fatimah called on the Federal Government to expedite the citizenship applications of stateless children in Sarawak, saying there were many cases where applicants only got to know their results six years later.

“This long process is depriving stateless children of education, health and welfare opportunities,” she said.

She added that only 268 citizenship applications out of 1,042 submitted from Sarawak have been approved under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution from August 2016 to September 2022.

Of the 268, 100 live in very remote areas of the state.

“About 50 of the 100 could not be contacted to collect their citizenship documents.

“The other 50 collected theirs after we got the help of their community leaders to locate them,” said Fatimah.