Citizenship law amendment won’t apply to children of PRs with no other nationalities, home minister says

PUTRAJAYA, March 25 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has today explained that the proposed citizenship law amendments would not affect children of stateless Orang Asli or Orang Asal parents.

He said the amendment intends to curb children born to permanent resident (PR) parents with other nationalities from automatically getting Malaysian citizenship, rather than stateless indigenous without any other citizenship.

“For example, if the mother is a Malaysian PR from the Philippines and the father is a Malaysian PR from Thailand, if their baby is born in Malaysia, it is automatically a Malaysian citizen. We don’t want that.

“For the case mentioned, before the amendment, where the person only has a Malaysian PR and no other nationalities at all, the amount of this case is very small. So for this, after the amendment, if they really prove they only have Malaysian PR, we will use existing laws,” he said during an engagement session with the media here.

Orang Asli refers to the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, while Orang Asal refers to the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

Earlier, the Malaysian government tabled its Bill to make changes to citizenship laws in the Federal Constitution, including a long-awaited amendment to finally enable Malaysian mothers’ overseas-born children to also be entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.

In the Bill that was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today for first reading by Saifuddin, the Malaysian government however also included proposed amendments — which civil society has described as “regressive” and potentially worsening the problem of statelessness in the country — such as removing the right of permanent residents’ Malaysia-born children to be entitled to Malaysian citizenship.

Currently, the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule’s Part II’s Section 1(a) provides that those born in Malaysia to at least one Malaysian parent or at least one permanent resident parent, would be entitled to Malaysian citizenship by operation of law or because the law says so.

Yesterday, the Malaysian Citizenship Rights Alliance (MCRA) urged the government to drop or at least defer the regressive amendments, cautioning that deleting the words “permanent resident” from Section 1(a) would affect the locally-born children of local natives — Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia and Orang Asal in Sabah and Sarawak — the most.




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