SARAWAK, MALAYSIA — Lina Samuel, 65-year-old cancer patient in Lawas, Sarawak, made headlines earlier this month after the Malaysia’s National Registration Department (Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara, JPN) office confiscated her Malaysian identity card (MyKad).
Sarawak’s rural health activist, Agnes Padan, has confirmed to local media, The Borneo Post that Aunt Lina passed away in Lawas Hospital at around 7 am this morning (25 Apr).
“Yes, it is true. Lina Samuel has passed on this morning. She was admitted to Lawas Hospital last night at around 10pm.”
Agnes shared that Lina’s family is preparing to bring her body back to the family home in Long Sebangang, Lawas.
Aunt Lina is survived by two sons and two daughters who are all stateless.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), a Malaysian law group, earlier condemned the JPN’s seizure of Aunt Lina’s NRIC, stating that it was an unlawful and unconstitutional act.
Aunt Lina is from the Lun Bawang group (an ethnic group found in Central Northern Borneo). Her MyKad was seized when she attempted to change her address in order to vote in the 15th General Election held in November last year.
She was told by the officer from Lawas District’s JPN there that her MyKad was seized based on “orders from a superior”.
Since the seizure of her MyKad in November 2022, Aunt Lina has been unable to access to other governmental assistance and has been living without identification.
Diagnosed with colon cancer in February
One disaster after another, she was diagnosed with colon cancer in February this year, on top of other health ailments.
Aunt Lina was supposed to attend a follow-up with specialists at Miri Hospital on 17 April, but without her MyKad, she is unable to cross the Brunei border to reach Miri from Lawas.
Although both Lawas town in Limbang Division and Miri are within Sarawak’s jurisdiction, they are separated by Brunei. People from both places need to cross the Brunei border when travelling by land, requiring a valid official document to be presented when crossing the border.
She will also need to hold a valid MyKad if she intends to travel to Miri by flight.
Despite the seizure of Aunt Lina’s MyKad, Sarawak Health Director Dr Ooi Choo Huck stated that the Sarawak healthcare department would continue to provide medical services to her.
Malaysia’s Home Minister said the cancer patient not M’sian citizen
According to a report by Malaysiakini, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail claimed that Aunt Lina’s MyKad was seized by the JPN because they found out that she is allegedly an Indonesian citizen.
The birth certificates of her children supposedly showed that she holds Indonesian nationality.
The Borneo Post reported that JPN Kuching sent officers to Lawas to meet with Aunt Lina on 13 April and issued a temporary document to ease her travel to Miri for cancer treatment.