Stateless youth Mohamad Omar Mokhtar, who feared he would not be able to further his studies due to his citizenship status, has newfound hope now after a meeting with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
During a special visit to Alor Setar, Kedah, in conjunction with the Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia tour at the state level, Omar, a straight-A student, was invited to receive a donation from the Keluarga Malaysia foundation which was personally presented to him by Ismail.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said he was grateful and excited at being able to meet the prime minister face-to-face to discuss the challenges he had faced since first applying for an identity card at the age of 12.
"I got to speak to the prime minister himself," he said.
"I was told that good progress had been made and not to say anything to anyone."
Omar, at a press conference in Petaling Jaya arranged by rights group Lawyers for Liberty on Monday, had spoken of his dream of attending university which he feared would be denied him due to his lack of citizenship.
Omar, who was born on Merdeka Day in 2002, was unable to apply for an identity card due to problems with the documentation of his birth mother, who came from Sabah.
His father is also a Malaysian citizen.
Omar's birth parents tied the knot in Selangor without a valid registration process. They later divorced, and in 2015 Omar was adopted by his aunt who lived in Kedah.
At that point, the adoption application was approved by the National Registration Department. Omar's first birth certificate put him down as a Malaysian citizen.
After finding his birth mother's identity card invalid, however, the department issued him a new certificate, this one stating that he was not a citizen.
Omar said he truly wished to receive a valid identity card from the government to change his family's future and break free from the cycle of poverty.
His dream is to further his studies in the field of education, and to one day become a teacher.
"I don't come from a well-off family," he said.
"I want to help my parents and give back to society as well as this country."