SEREMBAN - Sisters Kasthuri, Vanitha and Avilasha have always excelled at school, scoring straight A's in their examinations.
Kasthuri, 22, is now studying medicine at a local university while 15-year-old Vanitha, who aspires to become a chemical engineer, will be sitting for her Form Three examination next month.
Avilasha, who is in Form Two, also aspires to become a scientist.
But there is a major hurdle to achieving their dreams. All three are not Malaysian citizens although their father is.
Without identity cards, they cannot go far in their pursuits.
Kasthuri, who has finished her pre-medical and first year studying medicine, said she was unable to continue her second year, which starts on Monday, as she did not have the financial means to do so.
"Since I do not have an identity card, I am unable to apply for a study loan from the National Higher Education Fund.
"If I am unable to come up with the money, I will not be able to continue my education as I have yet to pay up about RM30,000 (S$10,000) for the first year," she said, adding that her 46-year-old taxi driver father T.Gunalan had so far paid about RM50,000 for her tertiary education.
Kasthuri, who has two younger brothers Kishok, 21, and Arjun, 16, said the siblings had been in a predicament since birth as their parents were unable to register their marriage.
"My mum is a Filipino who came to Malaysia in 1991 to work.
"She married my dad at a Hindu temple here the following year but her employment agent refused to return her passport, resulting in my parents being unable to register their marriage," she said.
She said that since then, the family had made countless appeals and trips to Putrajaya.
However, there is now some hope after the family received a letter from the Home Ministry in June asking them to go for a DNA test to establish paternity.
They were initially asked to pay about RM10,000 for the procedure at the Chemist Department in Petaling Jaya but managed to have the amount reduced to RM2,300 following an appeal.
"The DNA tests confirmed paternity and we have submitted the necessary documents to the authorities.
"We are hoping that the authorities will grant us citizenship soon as we know the hardship of not having a Malaysian identity card," Kasthuri said, adding that her parents also managed to have their marriage registered after her mother obtained a Philippines passport in 2012.
Kasthuri said her parents, already facing financial problems, were also required to pay RM240 for each of her siblings still at school due to their status.
"We want to become useful citizens of this country and the biggest hurdle is not having Malaysian identity documents.
"It is our hope that the authorities will grant us our papers soon as any more delays would cost us dearly," she said, adding that both her brothers were also hoping to join the police force one day.