Govt tables Bill to help Malaysian mothers; but wants to stop permanent residents’ children from getting automatic citizenship

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — The Malaysian government today 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 Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, 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.

The nine-page Bill tabled today proposes to replace the words “either a citizen or permanently resident in the Federation” with the words “a citizen”, which would effectively be deleting the word “permanent resident”.

Yesterday, the Malaysian Citizenship Rights Alliance (MCRA) had 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.

Even after 60 years of Malaysia being formed, MCRA had highlighted that many natives in Malaysia continue to only hold permanent resident (PR) status and red identification cards denoting their status as PR only. These natives remain stateless as they are not citizens of Malaysia or any country.





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