Home Minister keeps his words to amend Federal Constitution to enable children born overseas to Malaysian mothers to automatically become citizens



By Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

KOTA KINABALU: It is encouraging to note that the Ministry of Home Affairs has been quick to follow up on the Cabinet’s decision a month ago to amend the Federal Constitution to enable children born overseas to Malaysian mothers to automatically become citizens.

Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday that his Ministry would soon update Members of Parliament on work in progress towards achieving this aim.

The Minister has been true to the promise he made last month that this matter would be among his top priorities.

Already a total of 688 applications for citizenship for children in a similar situation have been received and the Minister has acknowledged that there could be more applications in due course.

On the matter of dual citizenship, the Minister was hopeful that a ‘balance’ could be found to ensure gender equality.

On the question of citizenship applications by stateless children or by those born out of wedlock, the Ministry has also been proactive.

A special team will travel to the interiors and borders of Sarawak to process 948 of the 150,000 citizenship applications received so far. The results are expected in three months.

It is also important that the cases of the remaining applications be given priority.

As a preliminary step, it is proposed that the Government simplify the application process since many of the applicants do not have the means nor the capacity to fulfill all the application requirements.

Among others, there could be more awareness programmes as to what the requirements are, and advice as to what to do in cases the requirements are found difficult to fulfil.

All the National Registration Department branches throughout the country must reform and standardize their administrative system to avoid possible inconsistencies.

Children become stateless through no fault of their own. What they lack is only proper documentation. This issue can be resolved at the stroke of a pen.

It is hoped that the high-level Cabinet committee that has been set up under the chairmanship of Saifuddin will act fast to cut the Gordian knot for a final solution to this lingering issue.

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