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Witness #6 | Mebpung Akup

My name is Mebpung Akup. I am 60 years old. I was born in 1961 in Long Lutok, in the hinterland of Lawas. I realised I had this disease in 2017, upon discovering lumps on my right breast. I found out I had breast cancer. 

They [the medical professionals] said they would give medication first, and take a sample after a few months.

My husband is a Malaysian citizen. We have been married for 42 years and we have five children, my youngest being 30 years old. Till today, I have no Identity Card (IC). My children all have ICs, just like their father. Their father tried to apply for an IC on my behalf, but now that all roads are closed due to COVID, I couldn’t go there. 

From the age of 17 until now I have never gone to a regular hospital. When we go to the National Registration Department (NRD) [about my IC issue], we have never received a helpful answer. They said to wait until I grow up and get married. 

My husband also tried to get me an IC but to no avail. I don't know precisely why, but they kept telling him to wait. On several occasions they have told him to wait. 

In 1981, my husband wanted to make an IC for me, after my father had passed away. 

Till this day we still receive unhelpful answers. They always tell me to wait, although I have already provided everything that they required: information about my siblings; birth certificates for me, my siblings and my children; passport photos of my siblings; and photos of my family. Still, no response on the status of an IC for me.

That is the problem I face. Till now, I do not have an IC. I am old and have this disease. It is difficult for me to go to the hospital for treatment. My children all have families of their own. It is difficult for me to get medical treatment, because without an IC the medical fees are expensive. 

I am at my wits’ end trying to obtain medical treatment. In 2020 they told me to go there [to the hospital] but I could not do so, as the roads were closed due to COVID. Very difficult, this problem of mine.

Additional Testimony by Mebpung Akup

My name is Mebpung Akup, and I live in Batu Mulong, Lawas, Sarawak. I am 60 years old and I have five children. All my life I have lived in Sarawak, but I am considered a foreigner. I have seven brothers and sisters. I am the fourth child and the only one currently without citizenship. You see, I was born in October 1961 in Long Lutok, close to Long Sukang. My delivery was handled by a midwife who has since passed away. My mother was expecting yet another child soon after she gave birth to me.

It was not possible for my mother to walk for days to reach Lawas in order to register my birth at the National Registration Department (NRD), and my father was serving as a Border Scout during the [Indonesia-Malaysia] Confrontation. The period 1961 till 1965 was a difficult period for Orang Ulu in Lawas due to the confrontation with the Indonesians. After the Confrontation, in 1973 when I was 12 years old, my father and I went to NRD in Lawas to submit an application for my Identity Card (IC). The officer who processed the application informed us to come and collect the IC in six months. After the six months, when my father and I went back to NRD in Lawas, the officer-in-charge had been transferred out. 

Since then, I have not been able to get my IC. When I got married, my husband submitted application forms to NRD several times, yet the only reply we received was that I could not prove my place of birth and the relationship between me and my parents.

Although there is no evidence to prove that I was born in Indonesia, I am not considered Malaysian and I do not have an IC. I was forced to apply for an Indonesian passport at the Indonesian Consulate, due to my health. With this passport I was able to travel to Kota Kinabalu for a medical check-up. 

I am now suspected of having breast cancer and I cannot afford to seek medical treatment at the local hospital or at the Likas Hospital in Sabah. For non-citizens like me, the medical treatment will be very expensive. The nearest hospital with specialists and that is well-equipped is Likas Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, located three hours away from Lawas. Likas Hospital is a cancer specialist hospital. Now, due to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) it is expensive to enter Sabah. Besides the cost of transport, my husband and I will have to pay RM300 each for COVID-19 swab tests, and the cost of quarantine. This is on top of the cost for my suspected breast cancer medical examination. I have a lump in my breast and I have not been to Likas Hospital for any medical examination or treatments for the last two years. 

The Sarawak cancer specialist hospital is located in Kuching, which is 1,200 km away from Lawas. It will cost a lot more to fly to Kuching than to seek treatment at Likas Hospital.  

This is a translation of the original testimony in Bahasa Malaysia.

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