Tan Yao Chun, who is stateless, can only look as his friends begin school at SJK(C) Yit Min in Changlun. PIC BY AZHAR RAMLI
Rose Mary Chin

CHANGLUN: Seven-year-old Tan Yao Chun, from Taman Sayang here, woke up early on Sunday and walked to SJK(C) Yit Min, accompanied by his 77-year-old grandmother, Rose Mary Chin.

However, as his peers from the neighbourhood, in crisp white and dark blue uniforms, eagerly waited for the morning bell that would mark the beginning of their school life, it was not the case for the youngest child of three.

The stateless boy, clad in a white shirt, red shorts and a pair of flip-flops, only stood at the canteen and watched his friends start school.

Some of the boys called out to him to join them, while some parents who knew Yao Chun asked why he was not in school.

The small boy only shrugged his tiny shoulders, not knowing how to answer them. He hid behind his grandmother, who had raised him since he was an infant.

“Look at all the uniforms, I, too, want to wear them,” he said, beaming with joy while looking at Chin, a retired nurse.

He is too young to understand the predicament that his grandmother is facing in enrolling him in school.

Born on Aug 29, 2009 at Hatyai
City Hospital to a Malaysian father and a Myanmar national mother, the boy has neither country’s citizenship.

His predicament began when his father, Tan Meng Pun, 42, failed to register Yao Chun’s birth at the Malaysian embassy in Thailand.

The father went missing for many months, prompting the mother to hand over the newborn to his grandmother, who lives here.

Chin said two women came to her house and handed over Yao Chun, together with his birth certificate issued by Hatyai City Hospital.

“They claimed that my son had gone missing and they did not know where to find him, so they decided to hand over the boy to me. I accepted him because he is my grandson.”

She said she had tried to register Yao Chun with the state National Registration Department, but her application was turned down. This was because the boy’s birth certificate was not registered at the Malaysian Consulate General Office in Songkhla, Thailand.

The elderly woman then travelled all the way to the Malaysian consulate office in Songkhla, but could not complete the application process as the boy’s father was missing at the time.

Chin then tried other avenues to get her grandson registered, but to no avail.

“My son, who returned home after many months, also tried to register Yao Chun with the National Registration Department, but it was turned down. We were told that our application is pending.”

She said she hoped to send Yao Chun to school this year, but it seems he would have to wait longer.

Frustrated by the hurdles, Chin has considered legally adopting the boy so that he could get a legal document that would allow him to attend public schools.

“If anyone ever doubts that he is my grandchild, I have conducted a DNA test to prove that he is.

“I am worried what will happen to him when I am gone. He is just a small boy who has no future without education.”

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