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Under 1% Of Malaysian Women’s Children Born Overseas Received Citizenship Since 2020

Hamzah Zainuddin tells Lim Kit Siang that the government approved just five of 568 such citizenship applications from 2020 to Feb 15, 2022; none were rejected.

Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin speaks at a press conference on June 18, 2021. Picture from the Home Ministry's Facebook page.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 – The government approved less than 1 per cent of citizenship applications submitted from individuals born overseas to Malaysian mothers and non-Malaysian fathers in the past two years.

“For Your Honourable’s information, based on records from the National Registration Department (NRD) from 2020 to February 15, 2022, a total of 568 applications for citizenship was received from individuals born overseas to mothers with Malaysian citizenship and fathers who are non-citizens and from that figure, five applications were approved and none were rejected,” said Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin in a written Dewan Rakyat reply on March 8.

Hamzah was responding to a question from Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang, who inquired about the number of applications NRD received from children born to Malaysian mothers and non-Malaysian fathers, as well as how many applications have been approved and rejected since 2020.

The home minister previously told Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto in Parliament that the government approved just 117 citizenship applications for under-18 children born overseas to Malaysian mother and foreign fathers from 2013 to February 15 this year, comprising 2 per cent of 4,870 applications.

During a special chambers session in the Dewan Rakyat on March 2, Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong said that since 2020, a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for citizenship applications has been introduced with a faster and smoother process. 

However, he noted that applications prior to 2020 have yet to receive a response. In particular, Khoo asked for a status update on 21 specific applications submitted from Alor Setar, Kedah, before 2020, and if additional documents were required to complete the application.

In response, Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Ismail Abdul Muttalib said consideration for approval of Malaysian citizenship applications under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution does not apply retrospectively. However, the need for additional documents as stated in the new SOP will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Citizenship applications under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution relates to the government’s special power to register anyone aged below 21 years as a citizen.

Ismail went on to emphasise that conferring Malaysian citizenship to non-citizen individuals was the “highest honour and an exclusive right of the federal government that cannot simply be offered and given arbitrarily.”

“In considering Malaysian citizenship, the burden of proving eligibility to be awarded Malaysian citizenship is the responsibility of each applicant and the process of consideration is subject to conditions under Section 111, Federal Constitution, Citizenship Rules 1964, as well as the relevant legislation on issues of marriage registration, adoption, legality of children and immigration regulations,” he said.

“The facts and documentary evidence submitted by each applicant will be examined in the appropriate turn before a decision is issued. As such, no specific period is set for the issuance of a decision and it varies according to the needs of the case.”

While he did not confirm the status of the specific applications mentioned by Khoo, Ismail said that from 2017 to February 15, 2022, a total of 1,477 citizenship applications under Article 15, 16 and 19 were received in Kedah, out of which 864 were still being processed.

Article 15 of the Federal Constitution covers citizenship by registration for the wives and children of Malaysian citizens, while Article 16 relates to citizenship by registration for adults born in the federation before Merdeka Day.

Article 19 is on citizenship by naturalisation for adults who have resided in Malaysia for at least 10 years. 

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