PUTRAJAYA: The Minister of Home Affairs has defended the Immigration Department staff who questioned the proficiency of an individual in Bahasa Malaysia while renewing a passport at UTC Johor.
Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the officer's actions were likely taken due to suspicions about the individual's citizenship status when they were not proficient in Bahasa Malaysia.
"It may have happened because it raised suspicion. Previously, when the Ministry of Home Affairs conducted studies on citizenship, we found that the requirement to master the language is also a condition in several of the world's most advanced countries, such as Singapore and the UK. If you cannot understand the local language, you are not eligible," he explained.
"For us, it is enshrined in our constitution that Bahasa Malaysia is the official language, while other languages can be learned and used freely. That is the foundation," he added.
He emphasised that an individual's obligation to master Bahasa Malaysia cannot be compromised. If incidents like this occur, parents can understand that it is a duty, and the department is not complicating the situation.
"It is essential to understand the language to avoid raising suspicions," he said during a press conference at the first-anniversary celebration and monthly gathering of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
He also provided an example of previous cases where suspicions arose due to a child's facial resemblance not matching the parents.
After an investigation, it was discovered that document forgery had occurred to obtain an identity card.
Recently, a woman went viral on social media for sharing her experience of renewing a passport at UTC Johor. She claimed to have been ridiculed by a male staff member at the Immigration Office because of her lack of proficiency in Bahasa Malaysia when renewing her daughter's passport.
In another development, urged the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to scrutinise the financial, annual, and operational reports of organisations to ensure compliance with legal provisions and prevent them from engaging in activities beyond the scope of organisational laws.
Saifuddin said the need for regular examinations and monitoring by the RoS to ensure that registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) adhere to regulations, especially in light of recent incidents where the accounts of an NGO were frozen due to allegations of misappropriation of public donations intended for assisting the Palestinian people.
He stated that the RoS should enhance the level of compliance of NGOs with organisational laws, taking firm action to revoke registrations if an NGO fails to submit financial, annual, and operational reports.
"I will discuss with the Home Ministry Chief Secretary (Datuk Ruji Ubi) and the leadership of ROS to review the registration status, particularly of NGOs," he said.
Two days ago, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) responded to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's assertion that it should release the RM10 million currently held in the frozen Aman Palestin bank accounts to help Palestinians.
MACC Chief Commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said that investigation of the non-governmental organisation's (NGO) accounts is still ongoing and funds cannot be released.