From the Stateless Malaysian Citizenship Movement
It has become exceedingly apparent that a number of Malaysian citizens are facing serious issues applying for citizenship for their children born in Malaysia under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution. There are numerous cases of such pleas, plights and battles highlighted in the media of late.
There is a significant group of Malaysian-born children, not refugees or asylum seekers, who are fighting for their identity in the crusade of their lives.
Under current law, Malaysians are allowed to apply for citizenship for their children under two categories.
The first involves biological children of Malaysian citizens either by late marriage or children left behind by foreign mothers.
Another common category are Malaysians who are adopted legally or abandoned children adopted under the law.
It is in their best interest that their plight be acted upon for the sake of their security and future livelihood. Some of their lives have been traumatic while their future seems bleak as the citizenship process takes five years or more. In some cases, they have to reapply several times after being rejected without any reason.
In the meantime, the waiting period sees stateless children being labelled and experiencing added growing pains in matters involving education, healthcare and later employment. Till today, no official authority has addressed these problems despite numerous appeals.
These children, though born in Malaysia with legal proof of biological link or adoption papers also face mental anguish due to being misperceived as foreigners or refugees. They are denied basic equal rights to livelihood because of the circumstances over which they don’t have control.
There seems to be a massive roadblock at the home ministry with little or no resolution given except being told to “wait and see”. This is gravely hurting the affected children and their families.
Malaysia has signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and is obliged to provide for the best interest of children born in the country to Malaysian citizens as well as legally adopted children.
Stateless children have risen and delivered in spite of their predicament of not having an identification card. They strive to be better students and good citizens, some excelling academically and also in other fields.
We urge the new Malaysian government to act in the best interests of our children. Their problem begins at the national registration department, where the interpretation of the Federal Constitution and related laws appear to be exclusive in nature.
We ask to uphold the right of all Malaysian citizens to confer nationality on their children on an equal basis, regardless of gender, marital status and the child’s place of birth. And granting citizenship to children when either parent is Malaysian, notwithstanding the marital status of the parent and regardless of whether they are born in Malaysia or outside the country.
As parents and guardians who are Malaysian citizens, we appeal to the authorities for their deeper understanding and utmost consideration to bestow our children the God-given right to belong to Malaysia.
The Stateless Malaysian Citizenship Movement is a community-based organisation.
The views expressed are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.
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