Home Civil Society Voices Abandon regressive citizenship amendments – 60 NGOs

Abandon regressive citizenship amendments – 60 NGOs

Stateless children in Malaysia - EPA/AL JAZEERA

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The Malaysian Citizenship Rights Alliance (MCRA), The Child Rights protection group and Impacted Malaysian parents urges Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s “Madani” (civil and compassionate) government to promptly abandon the proposed regressive citizenship amendments which will further affect categories of children who are constitutionally Malaysian and who have been arbitrarily and wilfully denied citizenship by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA).

These amendments aim to legitimise the ministry’s unconstitutional actions, which do not have the mandate of the people.

Further, these regressive amendments are being made without engaging with and seeking input from organisations working on the ground with affected individuals and communities; and are being proposed without understanding the issues or collecting relevant information and data.

Changing citizenship laws, which grant children access to other fundamental constitutional and human rights, based on whimsical or discriminatory motives will lead to unjust consequences and place more innocent children at risk of harm and violation.

Any amendments to the criteria for acquiring citizenship should only be done after thorough data gathering, research, examination of comparative laws and exploring alternative solutions to existing issues.

It is deeply worrying that this Madani government is approaching such crucial and fundamental legislation in an arbitrary, cavalier and negligent manner with complete disregard for the categories of children who will suffer as a consequence of these draconian amendments.

We are alarmed at Deputy Home Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah’s comment that the government’s proposal to abrogate Sections 1(e) and 2(3) in Part II of the Second Schedule “was aimed at preventing the misuse of obtaining citizenship”, such as by ‘illegitimate’ children who claim that they do not have any citizenship at birth.

This statement was made despite acknowledging that these sections “fundamentally protect any person from becoming stateless”.

The deputy minister’s lack of awareness and knowledge of these issues is both astounding and embarrassing, and indicative of the lack of informed decision-making that is taking place about this critical constitutional issue.

In all the cases filed before the Malaysian court under Section 1(e), the affected children have been able to prove that they are not citizens of any other country, whilst the government has failed to prove otherwise, despite having access to inter-governmental communication and exchange of data and information.

READ MORE:  Citizenship laws: Suhakam opposes proposed amendments

To abrogate the fundamental rights of vulnerable children because the government has been derelict in its responsibilities is cruel and inhumane.

We find the deputy minister’s rationale wholly unacceptable and particularly discriminatory against children born out of wedlock, and a clear abrogation of their responsibility and obligation to act in the best interest of children, and to ensure their protection and their right to life with dignity.

We further make reference to the response given by the deputy home minister that civil society organisations and several other stakeholders were merely given a briefing on the proposed amendments in June.

We remind the deputy minister that we were left with many unanswered questions, and any requests for data or information in support of amendments have not yet been provided. In addition, repeated requests to meet with the Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail have been ignored.

This raises concerns about the preparedness and assessment by the MoHA on the potential impact and harm these amendments may cause,

particularly by leaving children who are Malaysian and not citizens of any other country without any avenue to pursue their claims for citizenship through judicial or administrative means.

During the briefing, civil society groups had also pointed out that the MoHA’s understanding of the laws of the countries mentioned in the comparative study is grossly erroneous, as all the mentioned countries (ie the UK, Singapore and Japan) do not discriminate against children born out of wedlock to their citizens. These countries also provide automatic citizenship for foundling children.

Citizenship laws play a crucial role in defining the legal status and rights of individuals within a nation and their contributions towards development.

Any changes to these laws should be made with careful consideration, reflecting a commitment to principles of justice, equality, and the protection of individual human and other rights.

READ MORE:  Drop amendment removing right to citizenship for children of permanent residents

Addressing statelessness is not only a matter of human rights but also crucial for sustainable development.

Efforts to prevent and reduce statelessness should involve legal reforms to prevent statelessness, identify and resolve existing situations of statelessness to ensure that all individuals can fully participate in the social, economic and political aspects of their communities.

Being ignorant about the stateless population among Malaysian children can only lead to multi-generational instability.

Endorsed by:

  1. Advocates for Non-Discrimination and Access to Knowledge (Anak), Sabah
  2. Aliran
  3. Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers)
  4. Association of Toy Libraries Msia
  5. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
  6. Bait Al Amanah (BAA)
  7. Borneo Komrad
  8. Buku Jalanan Chow Kit
  9. Cahaya Society
  10. Centre for Independent Journalism
  11. Childline Foundation
  12. Community Transformation Initiative Bhd
  13. Crib Foundation
  14. Development of Human Resources for Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia
  15. Engender
  16. Era Consumer Malaysia
  17. Etania Schools Sabah
  18. Fomca
  19. Gerak (Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia)
  20. HaKita
  21. HumanKind PLT
  22. Iskul Sama diLaut Omadal
  23. Johor Women’s League (Jewel)
  24. Kemban Kolektif
  25. Koalisi Buruh Migran Berdaulat (KBMB)
  26. Lawyer Kamek, Sarawa
  27. Legal Unit, Agamam Ani Msia
  28. Malaysia Stateless Alliance (MSA)
  29. Malaysian Association of Social Workers
  30. Malaysian Collaborative Practice Group
  31. Malaysian Council for Child Welfare
  32. National Early Childhood Intervention Council
  33. Our Journey
  34. Partners of Community Organisations (Pacos Trust)
  35. Persatuan Kebajikan Dan Kepenggunaan Wanita
  36. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (Hakam)
  37. Persatuan Pengasuhan dan Perkembangan Awal Kanak-kanak Berdaftar Malaysia (PPBM)
  38. Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Manusia (Proham)
  39. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor
  40. Pertubuhan Kebajikan pp th. Vivekananda Rembau NS
  41. Pertubuhan Masyarakat Rahmah, Sosial & Lestari Kuala Lumpur dan Selangor (RSL)
  42. Play Unltd PLT
  43. Protect and Save the Children
  44. Puak Payong
  45. PurpleLily Social Association Kuching
  46. Rahman Student League
  47. Sabah Aids Support Services Association (Kasih)
  48. Sarawak Women for Women Society
  49. Sisters in Islam
  50. Stateless Malaysians (Stateless.my)
  51. Stateless Malaysians Citizenship Movement (SMCM)
  52. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  53. Sustainable Development Network Malaysia (Susden Malaysia)
  54. The Rise Malaysia
  55. Guru
  56. Terabai Kenyalang Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS)
  57. Undi Sabah
  58. Vanguards4Change
  59. Voice of Children (VoC)
  60. Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK)
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Endorsed by 46 individuals, activists and affected Malaysian parents: 

  1. Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, consultant paediatrician
  2. Prof Dato Noor Aziah, Suhakam commissioner
  3. Ranee Sreedharan, lawyer for stateless person
  4. Azira Aziz, lawyer from Child Protection group
  5. Wong Kueng Hui, former stateless individual, activist
  6. Fan Siew Lee, mother of stateless child
  7. Tan Kim Hwa, mother of stateless child
  8. Vanessa, stateless
  9. Nurul Akashah, stateless
  10. Lee Cheah Cherng, father of stateless child
  11. Wilfred Fernandez, father of stateless child
  12. Lee Seng Loong, father of stateless child
  13. Tan Hooi Lim, father of stateless child
  14. Heah Tze Ling, father of stateless child
  15. Chandra Morgan Velutham @ Velautham, father of stateless child
  16. Sharene Kam Guat Mei, mother of stateless child
  17. Lee Su Fon, father of stateless child
  18. Lee Chi Kah, father of stateless child
  19. Sandra Lee, guardian of former stateless child
  20. Teon Tiong Ann, father of stateless child
  21. Nadesh Zakuan Abd Rahman, father of stateless child
  22. Lim Wee Seong, father of former stateless child
  23. Rodney Raj Edward, parents of non-Malaysian children
  24. Philip Choong Kim Hoong, stateless, aged 41
  25. Heng Kay Seng, member of MSA
  26. ⁠Mahendran Raj, husband and father to stateless
  27. Janice Tan, stateless
  28. ⁠Muhammad Irfan Tiong, father of stateless
  29. Jenness Ong Jia Xun, stateless
  30. Hor Chung Hung “pass away”, father of stateless – mother Elizabeth)
  31. Faridah Abdullah, stateless individual
  32. Timothy Tean Chong Chern, father of stateless child
  33. Santhi, mother of stateless child
  34. Chloe Ooi Eng Fong, mother of adopted stateless child
  35. Farizul Abdullah, stateless individual
  36. Aaliyah Marcia Abdullah, mother of adopted stateless child via Orphancare and JKM
  37. Mustafa UPC Mohamed, father of adopted stateless child via JKM
  38. Justine Morais, affected parent
  39. Anita Premila Paul, mother of former stateless child
  40. Victor Francis, biological father to stateless child
  41. Tan Han Fang, guardian of stateless child
  42. Sandra Stephanie Theraviam, mother of former stateless child
  43. Lee Chee Siang, father of adopted child
  44. Tan Jun Lok, stateless
  45. Tiew Chai Kee, father of adopted child
  46. Wong Yew Lee, former stateless individual
The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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