KUCHING: The government should come up with standard operating procedures (SOP) on approving citizenship applications under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution so that applicants are not left in the dark, says a lawyer.
According to Simon Siah, the Home Ministry has full discretion to decide whether to approve or reject applications under Article 15A, which is for citizenship registration by those below 21 years under special circumstances.
He said at present, no time frame was given for an application to be considered and no reason was given for rejection.
“Applicants don’t know how long they have to wait. There’s also no guarantee of getting a reply, so it’s really frustrating.
“With proper SOPs, applicants will know what to expect,” he said.
Siah, who has assisted several applicants, also called on the government to ratify Article 7 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which states that all children have the right to a name and nationality from birth.
“Malaysia is a signatory to the UNCRC but the government has reservations on Article 7. We should not punish children for a wrong they did not commit.
“Is it so difficult to recognise them as Malaysians if they are born here? There is nowhere else they can go. As it is, there is no way out and no way in for them,” he said.
Siah said stateless people, especially women, would be stuck in a quagmire as they could not register their marriages and their children would also be considered stateless.
“We have to break this cycle to give hope to children. But we can’t do this on a case-by-case basis and it should not have to go through politicians and lawyers.
“This should be resolved by the National Registration Department,” he said.
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