PM: Changes to citizenship law for kids born overseas to be tabled in September

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KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments to the law will be tabled in Parliament in September to resolve the citizenship issue of children born to Malaysian mothers abroad, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

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“We will be tabling amendments to the Federal Constitution to replace the words ‘whose father’ in Part I and Part II of the Second Schedule with the words “at least one of the parents”,” the Prime Minister announced at the opening of the International Malaysia Law Conference here on Monday (July 10).

He said the matter would be brought to the Conference of Rulers for consent which is required if constitutional amendments are to be made.

“I believe the proposal will be given support and it will be done soon by this month.

“We will then table it during the Parliament session in September,” he said.

Earlier, in her speech, Malaysian Bar president Karen Cheah hoped that the government would expedite amendments to the Constitution to resolve the plight of stateless children.

Meanwhile, in his special address, founding president of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin Tuanku Muhriz applauded the effort by the government to address the issue of stateless children but expressed caution on the proposed amendment.

“My colleagues and I advocating for children’s and refugee rights are pleased with the promised amendment to allow citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to non-Malaysian fathers.

“However, we were profoundly disappointed by other amendments, specifically the removal of Section 1(e) of Part II in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution, that could severely exacerbate the issue of statelessness among children,” Tunku Zain said.

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He expressed hope that moves to remove this provision would not proceed following pressure from civil society, former ministers and even among the Cabinet.

Several rights groups had previously voiced concern that the removal of Section 1(e) would have the effect of creating a new class of stateless children born in the country but whose parents are unknown.

The section currently confers automatic citizenship to foundlings, children separated from their parents with no proof of parentage, and children born to stateless parents.

When met later, Anwar, said the proposed amendments should not give rise to controversy as it is meant to address the issue of the citizenship of a child born to a Malaysian parent specifically.

In March, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told Parliament that there were 688 citizenship applications involving children born to Malaysian mothers abroad, although there were many more who had yet to submit their applications.

Of the 150,000 citizenship applications so far, he said most cases involved stateless children and children born out of wedlock.

– The Star


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