Document in hand: Dr Ahmad Zahid showing the press statement on the status of BOC holders during the press conference in Putrajaya.
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians who have allegedly become stateless after failing to get British citizenship may have to wait at least 17 years before they can regain their Malaysian citizenship.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this in reference to hundreds who had renounced their Malaysian citizenship allegedly in order to receive British citizenship through the British Overseas Citizenship (BOC).
The approval of Malaysian citizenship for these former citizens would also be subjected to their show of loyalty to the country and passing a Bahasa Malaysia proficiency test, he added.
“The Malaysian Government will not automatically grant citizenship to anyone who has already let go of their Malaysian citizenship.
“Anyone who wishes to re-apply for citizenship will have their application reviewed carefully while they are given only a residence pass, not citizenship or permanent residence.
“This is because there were those among them who had torn up their (Malaysian) passports with feelings of hatred towards the country and an intention to no longer return to this country – there was no more loyalty in them,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said at a press conference here yesterday.
He said 673 individuals – and not 1,000 as previously reported – had renounced their Malaysian citizenship allegedly to obtain the BOC between 2005 and 2013, ending up in this predicament of being stateless.
The British government had on July 4, 2002, decided that it would no longer consider citizenship applications involving BOC holders from Malaysia.
The BOC is a travel document that is not equivalent to British citizenship, even though BOC holders could be considered for British citizenship before the British Nationality Act 1981 was amended in 2002.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said a residence pass would permit those re-applying for Malaysian citizenship to reside in the country for up to five years, after which the pass will be up for renewal.
“These individuals should apply for the residence pass while in the United Kingdom through the Malaysian High Commission in London.
“They can only take off for Malaysia after their application (for a residence pass) has been approved by the Malaysian Immigration Department.
“A special counter will be opened at the KL International Airport on their arrival day, where the BOC document-holder will be issued with the residence pass and briefed on the rules pertaining to the pass,” he said.