As Malaysians who hold on to a valid citizenship, we are all afforded a vast number of essential rights and fundamental conveniences that we may sometimes take for granted, from publicly-funded subsidised healthcare to free education. However, the same cannot be said about individuals who are born into statelessness by circumstance, where each new day can present challenges that are unique to their status, or lack thereof.
Malaysian teacher raises stateless girl as her own daughter
A number of months ago, many social media netizens were left touched after learning about the story of how one elderly Malaysian auntie had selflessly taken it upon herself to raise a stateless young Muslim woman from childhood. Child to an Indonesian mother who had no choice but to leave her behind when she was only 2-months old after being deported, 22-year-old Rohana Abdullah was fortunate enough to find herself taken in under the care of Malaysian kindergarten teacher Chee Hoi Lan.
At the time, Chee was teaching at the same kindergarten where Rohana’s mother worked as a cleaner. Rohana’s father, a Malaysian man, had always been absent from her life.
Despite not being biologically related and maintaining differing faiths and beliefs, Chee raised Rohana like her own daughter and made every effort to provide everything that she would need in life. This would even include paying for her religious classes, As Chee wanted to ensure that Rohana would be raised a pious Muslim as her mother would have intended.
Since breaking cover, Rohana’s story had caught the attention of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri, and since been granted citizenship and an identity card by the Malaysian government in April of last year.
Rohana has been offered a sponsorship to study at UTeM
But the good news doesn’t just stop there, as Rohana will now be able to pursue her tertiary education at Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM), after she became one of three individuals who were awarded with a sponsorship under the university’s newly established Golden Child Program. The program is meant to provide financial assistance to academically capable students from underprivileged families.
The offer letter was hand-delivered to her by UTeM Vice Chancellor Prof Dr Massila Kamalrudin at Chee’s home in Batu 5, Jalan Ipoh on Saturday (July 30th 2022), where they have been living together. In speaking with members of the press, Rohana said that she was in the midst of making preparations for her move to Malacca, where the university campus is located.
Understandably, the opportunity also proves to be a bittersweet one for Chee, as Rohana said that the elderly woman would often cry at the thought of them living apart from one another.
“I still have some essential items that I haven’t yet purchased, and I am also looking for a maid who can take care of laoshi (Chee) when I am away.” she adds, hoping that somebody would be there to accompany her adoptive guardian while she was away at school.
Rohana will leave for Malacca today and will be pursuing a Diploma in Computer Science.
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Also read: Stateless Muslim woman raised by elderly M’sian kindergarten ‘laoshi’ hopes to attain citizenship & lead a normal life