PETALING JAYA: Citizenship is the highest award conferred by the nation and cannot be arbitrarily offered to anyone, says the Home Ministry.
It said this following its filing of an appeal against a landmark court ruling allowing the automatic granting of such a right to babies born abroad to Malaysian mothers.
The ministry said applications for Malaysian citizenship for those under the age of 21 born to Malaysian mothers overseas, which comes under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution, also took into account the government’s policy of not recognising dual citizenship.
“(In this case), the application for citizenship is filed separately with different sets of supporting documents and information, with consideration and assessment to be carried out according to the needs, facts and circumstances of the case based on the information provided.
“Terms laid out in the Constitution only allow for applications to be filed; it doesn’t guarantee that an application will be approved.
“It is emphasised here that the Malaysian citizenship is the highest award conferred and it is the Federal Government’s exclusive right, which is not offering it arbitrarily,” the ministry said in a parliamentary written reply on Wednesday.
The ministry was responding to PKR’s Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip who had asked why citizenship applications for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution were routinely rejected.
On Sept 9, the High Court ruled that citizenship was automatically granted to babies born abroad by biological mothers who are Malaysian citizens married to foreign-born men.
In his judgment, High Court judge Justice Akhtar Tahir said the word “father” in the Second Schedule of the Constitution must mean and include “mother” and that children of Malaysian women born abroad are entitled to citizenship by operation of law.
The decision came following a legal suit filed by the non-governmental group Family Frontiers and six Malaysian women married to foreigners.
On Sept 13, the Federal Government filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision.
In its parliamentary reply, the Home Ministry said every citizenship application it received would be thoroughly processed on a case-by-case basis to ensure all applications fulfil terms under Part III of the Constitution and other relevant legislation.
It said at the same time, the acquisition of Malaysian citizenship for those under 21 born abroad to a Malaysian mother with a non-Malaysian father was by registration under Article 15(2) of the Constitution, subject to terms under Part III of the Constitution as well as Citizenship Rules 1964, including related legislation on marriage registration, legal status of the child and Immigration regulations.“In this matter, considerations on citizenship applications under Article 15(2) of the Constitution also take into account the government’s policy of not recognising dual citizenship,” it said.
In conjunction with Malaysia Day, a joint statement by 13 MPs, including Barisan Nasional’s Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, Gabungan Parti Sarawak’s Batang Lupar MP Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Azizah Mohd Dun and DAP’s Kulai MP Teoh Nie Ching, called on the government to retract its appeal.
The statement by leaders from both sides of the political divide said the appeal ran contrary to the Malaysian Family concept espoused by the Prime Minister.