'Freedom' at last for four children

BATU GAJAH - For the past 13 years, the only playground Muhammad Junaidy Abdullah and his three siblings knew were the four walls of their house in Klang, Selangor.

Without any identification papers, his mother, Che Mah Othman, 36, dared not let her children venture outside the house in case they aroused suspicion and got detained by the authorities.

The children, aged between 5 and 13, had not attended school either. Yesterday, the National Registration Department gave them the freedom they yearned for by issuing them birth certificates.

Junaidy said he was looking forward to going to school next month.

"My ambition is to become a policeman and help my mother."

Che Mah said her estranged husband refused to apply for birth certificates for her children, claiming that he did not have money to pay the processing fee.

"Sometimes, he became angry when I urged him to apply for the children's birth certificates and he would beat me."

Che Mah said she could not stand her husband's abuse any more, and she and her four children ran to her sister's house in Baling, Kedah, to seek help.

"There, someone recommended that I seek shelter at welfare home Pertubuhan Amal Kita Kinta Perak where my children and I have been putting up since early this year."

Home chairman Mohammad Riza Ahmad Hambadley said he sought the assistance of the state National Registration Department after learning that the children did not have identification papers.

"Our volunteers have been teaching the children to read and prepare them for school next year."

State National Registration Department director Mohd Zahari Hassan said it took the department about one month to investigate the background of Che Mah and her children.

"Her siblings confirmed that she is a Malaysian."

He advised those having difficulties with their identification papers to come forward to the department and speak to its senior officers rather than seek the assistance of middlemen or irresponsible parties.

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